AS an antidote to recent commercial gimmicks to entice more people to shop online, Small Business Saturday – and its ethos – carries even more importance at the end of a difficult year for many high streets.
The fact that a Government totally deaf to the plight of the North’s rail passengers manage to find £1.5bn in the most recent Budget to support the retail sector is testament to the challenges facing shopkeepers, including the growth of the online sector.
Yet Government benevolence only goes so far. It cannot be right that some long-standing stores are being forced out of business by crippling rates and rent while the tax obligations of online giants do not always correlate with their turnover.
One way forward is for the proceeds of the Government’s digital services tax to be used to support measures to help high streets across the country to flourish as they look to evolve.
Yet, while such an approach will inevitably take time to introduce and implement, it is even more important that local communities support their shops – whether it be a conscious effort to shop locally more frequently or by launching innovative campaigns like those which, by way of example, are helping towns like Otley and Malton to buck the national trend and prosper in these tough times.
The goodwill is there – The Yorkshire Post’s Love Your High Street campaign has established this. The challenge now is harnessing such support and more people appreciating that a flourishing high street can also bring wider community benefits as a result of renewed civic pride.