Shoppers urged to wear masks when visiting Chichester, Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey and East Wittering

Shoppers are wholeheartedly embracing the campaign to support our high streets in the build-up to Christmas but are being reminded to make sure they stay safe and wear masks while buying presents for loved ones.

The Support Local Christmas campaign, launched by the Observer in partnership with Chichester District Council and V2 radio, has been a huge success with shops decorating their windows with, and giving away, specially-illustrated gift tags and recycled wrapping paper for each of the district’s main high streets – Chichester, Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey and East Wittering.

There are also a range of parking incentives brought in for the festive period to boost footfall on the high streets, which are listed at: https://www.chichester.gov.uk/decembercarparkingoffers

David Hockridge from Present Surprise, Chichester SUS-211213-133351003

Councillor Tony Dignum is the district council cabinet member for growth, place and regeneration at Chichester District Council. He is encouraging people to make the most of what is on offer across the district throughout December.

He said: “I would urge shoppers to take advantage of the parking incentives we brought in. If you download the Mipermit parking app you can benefit from a free hour of parking when selecting two hours in December.

“It allows shoppers to spend a bit more time in our city and towns - perhaps grabbing a bite to eat in some of our wonderful cafes and restaurants or visiting some of our key attractions.

“But please do remember how important it is to stay safe while you’re shopping. The latest Government advice is to wear masks while in shops and it’s vital that we follow the rules to ensure we all have a very happy Christmas.”

Ally Andrews from Stephen Lawrence Menswear,Chichester SUS-211213-133329003

Dave Hockridge is the owner of Present Surprise in South Street, Chichester where he has been selling unique gifts and cards for the past nine years. He has really embraced the Support Local campaign.

Mr Hockridge said: “We’ve been really looking forward to taking part in this year’s Support Local Christmas campaign with free gift tags and recycled wrapping paper. It’s all about getting people back onto our high streets and anything that helps with that is a good thing for the whole of Chichester.

“Like everywhere, Chichester has been hit hard by the pandemic. We all want our city and town centres to remain busy and prosperous, so footfall is important.

“There are far fewer empty shops in Chichester than people think and there is great choice. There are lots of quality bargains to be had on the high street.

“I would like to thank the public for supporting the city centre this Christmas, but it’s still important to follow the Government’s Covid guidelines in order to stay safe and enjoy a happy Christmas.”

There’s still time for businesses to order free beautifully illustrated gift tags and recycled wrapping paper to give away to customers, by signing up for the Support Local business support pack at www.chichester.gov.uk/christmasbusinesspack

Jameela Elsom, from Stephen Lawrence Menswear, explained why the Support Local Christmas campaign is so important to our independent businesses.

She said: “The campaign is brilliant. Customers are coming in the shop now because they want to shop local. The level of support since we reopened in April has been extraordinary. It’s been amazing, we’re really happy.

“Stephen Lawrence Menswear is a family-run business, we’ve been going for 25 years and this is our livelihood, we’re a one-off. More and more people appreciate that and are happy to support us. We find that really heart-warming and we feel very, very lucky.”

Jameela added: “One of the positives to have come out of the pandemic is that we’re now online. It’s fantastic for customers to be able to browse around on the website and then come into the store.”

For more information on the many offers and events across the district visit www.chichester.gov.uk/countdowntochristmas