TODAY The Sun issues a clarion call to save British high streets – and you can help by spending just £5.
Imagine having nowhere to buy Christmas presents, grab lunch and a newspaper, meet pals for a coffee — or just bump into people you have known for years.
That is the nightmare scenario if we do not start shopping local and leave town centres to die.
To get the tills ringing again, thousands of independent stores — from bakeries to pet shops, beauty salons to delis — in more than 100 towns are now offering special £5 deals.
The initiative is part of Fiver Fest, which hopes to breathe life into Covid-ravaged high streets already battling competition from retail parks and online shopping, and struggling with sky-high business rates.
It follows The Sun’s landmark Bounceback Britain campaign to get the country back on its feet.
Jeni Mundy, UK boss of Visa, which is supporting Fiver Fest, said: “The tills should be ringing in the run-up to Christmas but almost a third of small business owners are worried about not selling enough to keep their businesses running.
‘HANGING BY A THREAD’
“These are not only valuable shops and services but also a vital social hub for older people and families.
“Our research shows that four in five of us are worried about losing our local high streets.”
Fiver Fest, organised by the Totally Locally campaign, aims to get us in the habit of spending regularly in independent stores and pumping millions into local economies.
Over the next two weeks, shops will offer £5 deals on items such as food and beauty, ornaments and books — perfect for early Christmas shopping.
Tea shop owner Gail Hannan, of the Cup & Saucer in Clay Cross, Derbys, said: “It’s been a difficult year. Many customers started shopping online during lockdown and haven’t returned.
“We’ve seen businesses shut and shop units become empty, and those that are left are usually struggling.
“One business told me the way it’s going they’ll be out by Christmas, and a few others are going to decide in the New Year. They are hanging by a thread.
“The challenge is getting people back in before it’s too late, and Fiver Fest is a great way of getting behind the cause.
“More than 30 retailers have signed up here — a fantastic response for the size of the town.
“It will make a big difference to the community and will hopefully remind people of the benefits of their local high street, where the shopkeepers know you by name and know your order.
FIVE Fiver Fest deals
- Nail file and polish at Simply Skin, Teddington, South West London, was £15 and now is just £5.
- Daisy & Co soap or shampoo bar from Heart Gallery, Hebden Bridge, West Yorks, was £6, now only £5.
- Baked Camembert from Decant Wine And Cheese Deli, Bedford, was £13, now reduced to £5 when also buying a bottle of wine.
- Gin-and-tonic drizzle cake from Pearsons of Chesterfield was £7, now £5.
- Two rib-eye minute steaks from Tom Courts butcher’s, in Burntisland, Fife, was £10 for two, now £5.
“You just don’t get that sense of personal service and community when you shop online.”
For somewhere like Clay Cross, every adult spending £5 a week would generate £2.4million per year — a life-changing annual total of £35,000 for each of the town’s 68 small businesses.
Tim Edwards, owner of Bedford-based Beerfly, saw craft beer fans guzzle more flagons — giant two-pint servings — than ever when he reduced the price to £5 at the last Fiver Fest.
Tim is planning similar deals for this event.
He said: “It’s a fantastic initiative, which has brought in new customers.”
Butcher Tom Courts, of Burntisland, Fife, was Scotland’s Haggis Champion of 2019.
He has a fresh offer each day, starting with two rib-eye minute steaks for £5, down from £10.
More than 125,000 retail jobs were lost and 13,000 stores closed in 2020, the Centre for Retail Research found. Independent stores were hit hardest, with almost 10,000 already permanently shuttered by July.
That is the same amount that closed in the whole of last year.
But many more face a crucial three months.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Many are small non-food stores that had to shut for three months.
“As well as the losses caused by lockdown, they believe their business cannot run successfully under social-distancing rules.”
High street footfall was down by a third in September compared to the same month last year, although that was a mild improvement on August.
Even if your local town is not taking part, The Sun urges you to go out this weekend and buy from a small business anyway.
Areas joining in Fiver Fest
Aberystwyth, Alloa, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Ashburton, Ashtead, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Axminster, Banff, Barnstaple, Barry, Beaminster, Bedford, Belper, Bolsover, Bognor Regis, Bridgwater, Bridport, Brigg, Brighton (North Laine), Brighouse, Burntisland, Caldicot, Cheadle, Chester-Le-Street, Chesterfield, Chichester, Chipping Sodbury, Chorley, Cloughmills, Congleton, Corsham, Clay Cross, Crewkerne, Crickhowell, Cullompton, Crediton, Darlington, Dartmouth, Daventry, Dufftown, Eastbourne, Ellesmere Port, Faversham, Halifax, Hartlepool, Hasland, Hebden Bridge, Holyhead, Honiton, Horwich, Ilfracombe, Kinghorn, Kingsbridge, Kirkham, Knutsford, Leek, Leigh-on-Sea, Leighton Buzzard, Linlithgow, Llambed, Longridge, Lutterworth, Lyme Regis, Machynlleth, Maldon, Malton & Norton, Market Drayton, Middlewich, Mold, Morriston, Nairn, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle under Lyme, Newport (Isle of Wight), Northwich, Okehampton, Ormskirk, Overton, Paignton, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Prescot, Preston, Rochdale, Ruddington, Rugeley, Ryde, Sale, Saltburn, Sandwich, Seaton, Sheerness, Shepton Mallet, Shipston-On-Stour, Sowerby Bridge, Steyning, Stockton-on-Tees, Stornoway, Stone, Stonehouse, Stroud, Swadlincote, Tavistock, Teddington, Tiverton, Tynemouth, Turriff, Whitley Bay, Worksop, Wymondham, York.
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