Keep it local, Scotland’s shoppers urged

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A campaign to support retailers in Scotland by urging shoppers to think local first launches today.

Scotland Loves Local has been unveiled by Scotland’s Towns Partnership – with the support of the Scottish Government – as part of efforts to support local businesses to fight back from the challenges they face caused by coronavirus.

It encourages people to support shops, cafes, bars and restaurants on their own high streets and to do that responsibly by following all hygiene and social distancing guidelines.

Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell, said: “It is now more vitally important than ever to consider shopping, eating and drinking locally as we all have a role to play in Scotland’s economic recovery.

“Simple steps like choosing to visit a nearby shop or café, or buying goods or services from a business in your own community, helps support jobs and goes a long way to fostering the vibrant selection of products and services on offer close to home.

“By following the public health advice, we can all make exploring what the neighbourhood has to offer as safe as possible. I would encourage everyone who is able to head out and discover for themselves what living locally can offer them – I know that business owners at the heart of our communities will appreciate it immensely.”

The campaign has been launched as polling commissioned by Scotland’s Towns Partnership  shows that two-thirds of Scots have said they will prioritise shopping locally when their local town centres reopen following the coronavirus outbreak and restrictions.

Businesses across the country have been working with Business Improvement Districts, Local Authorities and others to put in place arrangements which mean people can shop locally, but safely. These arrangements include the use of screens, distance markers and signage, the provision of hand sanitizer instore and capacity limits.

Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said: “The impact of coronavirus has hit our town centres and local businesses hard.

This is all about getting people back to their roots and recognising that our town centre businesses and the people who run them are part of the fabric of our communities

“Now is the time for us all to support them to get back on their feet in a way which recognises that we still need to stay safe and follow the public health guidelines.

“By thinking local first, we can help Scotland’s economic recovery from its grassroots, supporting our high streets within all of the public safety guidelines. The impact we can have by doing this should not be underestimated.

“Scotland Loves Local is all about getting people back to their roots and recognising that our town centre businesses and the people who run them are part of the fabric of our communities.

“Sometimes for generations these people have been there for us. Now it’s time for us to be there for them.

“One of the great positives of the terrible times in which we have found ourselves has been the greater appreciation of localism. We must now harness that to keep our communities vibrant and lay firm foundations as we work to ensure our town centres are fit for the future.”

Polling for STP shows strong support in Scotland for local high streets and towns and the businesses trading there. The poll which surveyed over 1,000 Scottish adults found that:

Sixty six per cent say they are going to prioritise shopping locally when the high streets reopen;

64 per cent say the future of their town centre depends on whether or not local people support them and 88 per cent say it is vital that the general public support their local high street.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the backing given to Scottish farming, food and drink has been unprecedented

Professor Leigh Sparks, a professor of retail studies and a Deputy Principal at the University of Stirling, said: “There is a sense of place and desire to see local stores, businesses and towns succeed and a recognition that this depends in part on local residents supporting local places.”

The launch of Scotland Loves Local has been welcomed by organisations including the National Farmers’ Union of Scotland (NFUS), which recently wrote an open letter to shoppers asking them to support domestic food production and to call for risk and reward across the whole food supply chain to be shared.

NFUS President Andrew McCornick, said: “As food producers, Scottish farmers, crofters and growers take great pride in what they produce – meeting some of the highest production and welfare standards in the world in order to guarantee the delivery of quality Scottish food and drink to tables throughout the country.

“Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the backing given to Scottish farming, food and drink has been unprecedented and has reinforced that shoppers value healthy, nutritious, local produce and the standards to which it has been grown or reared. It is clear that Scotland Loves Local.”