Why we must shop local this Small Business Saturday – The Yorkshire Post says

IT is counter-intuitive that the first weekend of December marks Small Business Saturday when it is the interests of all to shop locally, and support neighbourhood traders, throughout the year.

Today marks Small Business Saturday across Yorkshire and the rest of the country.

Yet, while this year’s promotion takes on added significance because of Covid’s devastating impact on the retail sector and this week’s collapse of once impregnable chains, it’s also time Ministers begin to match the commitment shown by Yorkshire stores and shoppers.

This is not new. High streets were falling victim to the digital revolution before Covid struck. All the pandemic has done is accelerate the decline.

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And, while blame for the demise of the Arcadia Group falls squarely on the shoulders of the shameless tycoon (Sir) Philip Green and his associates, the Government is culpable for its complacency towards this sector as a whole.

High streets were struggling before Covid struck.

Paul Scully, the supposed Small Business Minister, has been anonymous when this role should be at the forefront of all Government policy, including Covid, before he introduced himself as the ‘Retail Minister’ in the Commons this week. Yet, far from inspiring confidence when responded to calls from senior MPs such as Sheffield’s Clive Betts for a digital sales tax to ensure a more level playing field between online operators like Amazon, and traditional stores who will still be crippled business rates once current Covid rebates come to an end, Mr Scully obfuscated.

“It is exactly why we are doing fundamental business rates reform. The first stage of the consultation has ended, and we will respond in the new year,” he told Mr Betts. Unfortunately he did not indicate whether he meant 2021 – or a later date.

And that’s the problem. By the time the Government grasps this issue and begins to act, it will be too late for even more shops, and staff, unless the wider public take a stand in the meantime and shop local wherever – and whenever – possible.

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Debenhams is the latest chain fighting for its future.