Today’s guest blog is from Councillor Afzal Shah, Cabinet Member for Sustainable Growth, Climate, and Ecology and Labour Councillor for Easton.
Small Business Saturday is a welcome opportunity for us to celebrate the vital importance of small businesses to local neighbourhoods and communities. By shopping at our local businesses, and on our local high streets, we help ensure that they receive the vital support which they deserve in the run up to the all-important Christmas shopping period. Simply put: shopping locally is shopping sustainably.
Small local businesses employ local people and invest locally, but have faced unprecedented difficulty throughout the year. We are keen to ensure our high streets and local businesses are vibrant, sustainable, and continue to thrive as much as possible. We know that 2020 has been tough, and continue to provide a range of support to local businesses and call for more help from national Government.
In Easton, as local residents and councillors, Councillor Ruth Pickersgill and I know how loved local independent businesses are. Along Stapleton Road and St Marks Road, local eateries, pubs, grocers, supermarkets, florists, gift shops, post offices, and much more besides contribute much to our vibrant local identity – alongside charities, places of worship, and other community groups. Traders associations have brought an entrepreneurial buzz to the area, with still more potential in the regeneration of the old job centre building. To help highlight Bristol businesses, Thangam Debbonaire, the MP for Bristol West, has started the #IndependentBristol campaign on social media, encouraging people to use the hashtag to profile independent shops, restaurants and other small businesses in the run up to Christmas.
Local small businesses continue to play a pivotal in local communities, especially when most of us were confined to our homes for much of this year. Local businesses espouse a sense of friendship and interaction between shoppers and staff. It is these local businesses that, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, offer employment to almost 3 million people, and nobody quite knows local communities in the same way as local retailers and shopkeepers.
All in all, local small businesses make a huge contribution to the local economy, locally investing over 60 pence in every £1 – they really are the lifeblood of the UK’s economy.