A rallying cry has been issued for the public shoppers to support their local businesses online to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scotland Loves Local campaign has found that the number of shops trading online has risen sharply in the countdown to Christmas as they use every means possible to help customers and communities amid Covid-19 restrictions.
Research as part of the national drive for people to think local first has found that more than two-thirds of businesses surveyed (64.4%) said they had the capacity to take online orders, with almost a quarter of them (22.3%) having made that possible since the start of lockdown in the spring.
While non-essential shops in Tier 4 areas of the country have had to close until 6pm on December 11th to comply with the latest Scottish Government outbreak mitigation measures, many have shifted focus to website and social media sales.
And with many festive shoppers turning online while unable to physically go to stores, they are being urged not to make internet retail giants their automatic first port of call.
Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, the organisation spearheading Scotland Loves Local, said: “Don’t forget your local retailers when shopping online.
“Since the outbreak of coronavirus, local shops have gone above and beyond to find safe ways of staying in business and to ensure their loyal customers do not go without.
“Many who’ve never traded online before have swiftly set up online capacity for shopping and ordering. The way they’ve taken off in such a short space of time is truly remarkable.
“It’s critical for their immediate survival and the future of Scotland’s high streets that we support our local businesses whenever we can in the safest way possible, whether that be in store or online. They need us now more than ever.”
Tier 4 restrictions cover the City of Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, Stirling and West Lothian.
With the lead up to Christmas a critical trading period, strong online sales are vital to those bolstering their in-store activities with digital offerings.
Mr Prentice added: “While many have had to physically close their doors as part of the action that has had to be taken to slow the spread of this terrible virus, that doesn’t mean that local shops affected have had to stop trading.
“They need our support now more than ever. So, when shopping online, we need to look at what the stores close to us are offering and make a conscious effort to support them. Browse the online offers in the same way you would the shop shelves.
“By thinking local first online as well as in person, we are helping the people who live around us, protecting jobs in our communities and investing in the future by ensuring local businesses are there for us in life beyond the pandemic.”
Scotland Loves Local is led by Scotland’s Towns Partnership with the support of the Scottish Government.
For more information about getting involved with the Scotland Loves Local campaign, go to www.lovelocal.scot.