Warning to use or lose our local shops

A “USE them or lose them” warning has been sounded over Suffolk shops as traders bid to ride the 2009 economic storm.

A “USE them or lose them” warning has been sounded over Suffolk shops as traders bid to ride the 2009 economic storm.

Business leaders said it was crucial that shoppers continued to support independent stores and producers in a make-or-break year, especially after the rush of the festive sales has calmed.

Local food campaigner Lady Caroline Cranbrook, who lives in Great Glemham, near Saxmundham, said the importance of shopping local would increase in the next 12 months because of the uncertainty of the global economy.

She said: “In a time of great confusion, doubt and anxiety I think local will be the answer. People will start to question whether long distance supply chains are economical.

“The solution will be local communities - at the heart of which will be the village shop. I am not against supermarkets per se - I have always said that you can't live without them - but my concern is that there are too many that are inappropriately large for our market towns.

“I think people would be very surprised if they shopped locally because many things are much cheaper than supermarkets - fresh vegetables and meat for example are not as expensive and are better quality.

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“However local stores can only survive if people shop there - they operate on small margins and it doesn't take a lot to tip the scales in the other direction.”

Paul Clement, director of town centre management company Ipswich Central, said the reasons for shopping local in 2009 were two-fold.

He said: “Firstly, the variety of shops in a town centre is far greater than what you will find in an out of town centre.

“Secondly, in the current economic climate when shops are obviously struggling its incredibly important that people support their local town centres - not just the independent retailers but the larger ones as well because the spend has to come into the town centre to make sure it survives.”

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