Traders call on shoppers for support as final weekend before Christmas nears

Ipswich town centre shopping.

Ipswich town centre shopping. - Credit: Su Anderson

Shoppers are today being urged to support their local High Street in the run up to Christmas as independent shop owners back the Ipswich Star’s Shop Local campaign.

People buying online or travelling to out-of-town retail parks have been asked to rethink their festive shopping plans ahead of the final hectic weekend before Christmas Day.

Cathy Frost, owner of gift shop Loveone in St Peters Street, said: “Shopping online all the time can be quite generic, lonely and boring, so if you shop locally, you keep money in the community, support shops like mine, help us sustain a vibrant community and enjoy a better shopping experience.

“Independent shops give the town its character and an added dimension, but it is unrealistic to expect every single person to shop local.

“However, it is about choice and looking at all your options. Can you physically buy it in the town? If you can’t, then look at other options, but at least consider us.

“Christmas is a crucial time of year for us. It helps us build reserves and pay our bills in January and February when it is quieter.”

Lois Mickleburgh, owner of wool shop Jenny Wrens Yarns, also in St Peters Street, said: “If you don’t use it, you lose it.

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“It is a self-fulfilling prophecy – if people say they don’t want to come to Ipswich, other people won’t, and businesses won’t exist. It is a vicious cycle.

“So our message is, come out and support us and the High Street. We need players of all sizes, and a good mix, to survive.

“We are hoping for a busy weekend and have already seen an increase in trade during Christmas.”

Heather Carr, owner of gift shop Zeebra Chic in Dial Lane, added: “It is really important people shop locally as it keeps businesses like us going and keeps money in the local community.

“If you go to Bury St Edmunds or Norwich, or an out-of-town shopping centre, you won’t get the same level of service or good-quality products as you would from our independent shops.”

One shopper Alex Gillespie, 26, of Trimley, said shopping locally creates a “sense of belonging”.

He added: “I urge everyone to support the High Street and I’ve done most of my Christmas shopping here. You get great quality products and superb service, while supporting the local community. Make an effort and come out.”

Paul Clement, chief executive of Ipswich Central, said: “Ipswich town centre has some fantastic stores and the variety available on the high street rivals any shopping centre around the country.

“Our independent stores make Ipswich what it is and you won’t find them anywhere else but it’s not all about the shopping.

“Christmas is about the experience too and we have some fantastic cafes and coffee shops for a quick pit stop as you make your way around the shops.”

John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, added: “For many small businesses, this weekend is one of the most important and busiest times of the year.

“We encourage more people to support our fantastic range of shops and businesses in the High Street.”