Members of Scotland’s Business Improvement Districts are showing their support for Scotland Loves Local, urging shoppers to act on the call to ‘think local’ while taking care and folloing public health advice.
Scotland’s Towns Partnership has launched the campaign – in association with the Scottish Government – encouraging everyone to support the traders and entrepreneurs who are at the heart of their home communities.
The significant multi-media promotion comes with the need to safely and responsibly support town centres – adhering to all public health guidelines – being never greater as businesses battle to overcome the consequences of the massive disruption and temporary closures caused by the pandemic.
As reopenings – whether they be shops, hairdressers, pubs or cafes – gather pace, its aim is to encourage people to make the most of what’s available close to them rather than immediately turning to large online retailers or travelling further afield.
Members of Business Improvement Districts across the country, which have been supporting their members through the consequences of coronavirus and helping them innovate so they can adapt to the evolving situation, have been speaking out in support of the campaign and of their hope that it can make a real difference.
Work has included putting 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.
In Nairn, BID Chairman Michael Boylan said: “The recent lockdown during the Covid 19 pandemic has brought a new dimension to local towns. Businesses who had been around for generations but in decline and used by the few in recent years turned around overnight as people looked to them to step into a space created by our inability to travel.
“The efforts that local shops have gone to has been quite extraordinary when you reflect back. In Nairn, we have shops who have moved online for the first time ever, we have pubs and restaurants that have catered for eating at home and even more going out of their way to deliver to your doorstep. Put simply, without the support of the shops and businesses in your town this tough period would have been a whole lot worse.
“Now that the efforts of these businesses have been recognised it’s time to ensure that they are around for generations to come by continuing to support them and the many local jobs they create. Continue to shop local, continue to support your community should be a motto that wherever possible, we live by.”
Paul Clark, of B Clark & Son Butchers in Nairn, added: “Since lockdown our shop has been able to continue to trade and we have been very grateful for the local support that we have had.
“The Covid situation has been disastrous for many businesses and we are lucky that we were able to step in and offer doorstep delivery and make sure that people were still able to get what they needed. However, the crisis is not over and what we as a business and others in the town need is for people to continue to shop local. It has never been more crucial than now.”
He added: “I hope that if one good thing comes out of the pandemic it is that people will change their habits and shop local. The high street has been hit badly year after year, but I hope this situation has shown that businesses like ours were here throughout, continuing to serve the community.”
At Rediscover Peterhead, some of its members promoted the campaign by having their photographs taken with the campaign logos.
Its Manager, Leslie Forsyth, said: “There’s a lot happening in Peterhead. There are lots of businesses doing lots of good things in the town centre. Independent businesses are the future of our town centre. We hope that the Scotland Loves Local message will help us encourage local people to support them.
“We have a diverse town centre. It is very much open for business and for local people to support it.”
At Elgin BID (Embrace Elgin), meanwhile, Chief Executive Gill Neill added: “Businesses have been going to huge lengths to make sure customers – and their staff – feel safe about coming back. They are working really hard to ensure people can be confident and have been rallying round to help each other, which has been heartening to see.”
She hopes the Scotland Loves Local campaign will further enhance the work in the area to encourage people to support businesses in their community and added: “I genuinely hope that the experience of the past few months has brought a greater appreciation from people of what’s around them.
“It’s really important that we’re all aware of the businesses in our town centre and that we support them. I hope this campaign encourages them to do so and that the sense of camaraderie that we’ve seen in our communities continues. We have all missed being able to meet family and friends in person for a coffee or glass of wine and our town centres are great places for this.”
In St Andrews, BID members have been highlighting Scotland Loves Local as well as their own gift card scheme for shoppers.
BID St Andrews chair Louise Fraser said: “The community is part of our town centre businesses. The more support our businesses get, the stronger we are as a community.
“Many of our businesses have been working tremendously hard during lockdown, changed their model and adapted to work safely during lockdown. We have seen great innovation and collaboration between businesses. In spite of all of the challenges, we have a lot of creative successes, which has been nice to see.
“There’s a real sense at the moment that we’re all in this together. I hope we can maintain that by supporting our local businesses, which is also important for reducing our carbon footprint, which people are becoming more careful about.”
In Alloa, Diane Brown, Project Manager for Alloa First, explained: “If there’s a positive to what we’ve seen as a result of coronavirus it is that more people have been shopping locally. They’ve been staying in the town, supporting the great shops we have here and seeing the benefit of doing so. The more people continue to shop locally, the better it is for the whole community. We hope that everyone keeps the habit going.”
Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, thanked BIDs for their support.
“Up and down the country, our Business Improvement Districts do tremendous work to support our town centres and make a real difference to the economy. We believe that Scotland Loves Local can enhance that and help us build for the future, embracing much of the localism displayed by people during lockdown.”
Scotland Loves Local encourages people to show their support safely, following all social distancing and hygiene guidance shared by the Scottish Government as part of the ongoing vigilance to keep rates of Covid-19 suppressed.
To find out how you can support Scotland Loves Local, click here.