Shoppers continue to support Chichester, Midhurst, Selsey, East Wittering and Petworth shops this Christmas

Shoppers have voted with their feet and taken the shop local message to heart by heading to our high streets this Christmas.

Throughout December, The Observer has teamed up with Chichester District Council and V2 radio to encourage people back into our city and town centres with the Support Local Christmas campaign – and it has certainly had an impact.

Councillor Tony Dignum, Chichester District Council’s Cabinet Member for Growth, Place and Regeneration at Chichester District Council said: “We are delighted with the success of the Support Local Christmas campaign.

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“Over the festive period our high streets have been packed with shoppers making the most of the wonderful businesses they have on their doorstep.

Petworth town councillor Harsha Desaiwith her daughter Sasha and Christmas presents

“All of our major high streets in Chichester, Midhurst, Selsey, East Wittering and Petworth, have embraced the Support Local campaign to really shout about what they have to offer.

“They have been able to pick up personal, unique gifts for their loved ones from quirky, independent businesses.

“We have an abundance of these fantastic shops and together they make a very attractive offering - meaning people who live in the district do not have to travel elsewhere.

“There’s still time to take advantage of our parking offers, buy last-minute presents and then stop for coffee and cake in one of our plentiful eateries.”

As part of the campaign, Chichester District Council introduced a raft of parking incentives across council-owned car parks.

They also produced beautifully illustrated, free recycled wrapping paper and gift tags for Chichester, Midhurst, Selsey, Petworth and East Wittering that shops could give away to customers and provided digital marketing packs to local businesses.

Helen Marshall, CEO and vice chair of Chichester BID said: “The Support Local messaging is certainly resonating with Chichester residents.

“The Chichester gift wrap and tags have been well received by the local independent businesses – adding colour and excitement to their window displays.”

Councillor Harsha Desai, from Petworth Town Council, said the campaign has really made people think about how they can support small local businesses.

She said: “More than ever, we should be encouraging people to shop local. I made a point of not buying online, instead going into Chichester and choosing a small business, Kids Stuff, to buy presents for my nine-year-old daughter.

“I spent £100 in there and it’s good to know that money went into the local economy – not an anonymous warehouse hundreds of miles away.

“In Petworth I managed to find the most amazing plastic-free, totally recyclable Christmas crackers in Red Card – actually for less than you’d spend at a supermarket. And both places offered good old-fashioned personal service.”

Julie Kearns from East Wittering Local Business Alliance is the owner of the ethical toy shop, Salty Dog Emporium.

She said: “Without a doubt, there is support to buy local and it has been very much welcomed in my shop. The little things like having gift tags and wrapping paper to pop in bags and put in with the online orders is a really nice thing to do.”

Andrew Chiverton, owner of The Crafty Pint, in Midhurst, is also part of the Midhurst Town Team. He said: “The Support Local campaign seems to be working extremely well. People are very keen to support local businesses this Christmas and many of the windows are displaying the Midhurst gift tags and wrapping paper.”

Cllr Dignum thanked the partners who have worked together on the project, including all businesses, Chichester BID, the town councils, business associations, the Observer and V2 Radio.

He added: “This was a real partnership, with a tangible desire from all involved to regenerate the local economy this Christmas after what has been an incredibly challenging couple of years.

“There is no doubt the Christmas Support Local the campaign will impact future shopping behaviours.

“Yes, people will continue to buy online but they now know they can shop local, spend local and support local.”

Robin Davison from Selsey Town Council, said: “We were happy to support the campaign to encourage residents to shop locally.”