Scotland’s Towns Partnership launched its campaign on 20th July – in association with the Scottish Government – encouraging everyone to support the businesses which are at the heart of their home communities.
The campaign seeks to remind all those living in Scotland that town centres aren’t just a series of buildings and pavements – they are made up of people – and harness the compassion and solidarity that was shown by communities during the coronavirus outbreak to help fuel the recovery.
The campaign follows publication of new polling figures which showed two thirds of Scottish residents intended to shop locally once their high streets reopen post-Coronavirus and that the successful future of town centres depends on support at a local level.
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.
It comes at a time when the need to safely and responsibly support town centres has never been greater following the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many traders – some of whom have been at the heart of community response campaigns during the crisis – have been forced to temporarily close throughout lockdown, with customers instead turning to large internet retailers.
Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP 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.”
Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said: “The impact of coronavirus has hit our town centres and local businesses hard. 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 town centres within all of the public safety guidelines. The impact we can have by doing this should not be underestimated.
“The breadth of businesses in our town centres is vast. Whether you need a book, a pint of milk, a night out and a meal or some garden furniture, please think local first.
“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.”
Scotland Loves Local will highlight the fact that it’s the people behind the businesses which make our high streets special – not simply the buildings and shop units which are found on them.
It also 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.
Wendy Ross, owner of Ruby Red gift shop and Driftwood Lifestyle in Milngavie, features as part of the campaign, urging people to “think local first”.
She said: “People should support local businesses. We tend to go the extra mile for our customers, especially in Milngavie, where we’re so lucky to have a precinct.
“I love seeing the customers and love the loyalty they have. The town centre is special. Mingavie has always been known as the village and still has a family feel to it.”
Gary McCaw, who owns Bianco Nero in Paisley town centre, also features.
With shops and eateries reopening, he urged locals to continue supporting local traders across Scotland, and said: “The majority of the money goes into the local economy, not to big multi-nationals. Local companies generally employ and invest more in the local workforce. They generally buy local more so that’s why it’s important for you to buy local.”