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'£20.4 million directly into the local economy if each adult in Chesterfield spent just £5 with an independent retailer or business... each week'

Covid-19 has inevitably had an impact on our shopping habits - be that short term or long term, and the difficulties for town centres has been making headline news, as the number people working at home reduces the number of shoppers.

Chesterfield Town Centre appears to be coping fairly well, although we've seen a number of retail casualties in recent months. I suspect what we all want to see is a thriving high street of interesting, useful, practical shops run by friendly and cheerful local people - and occasionally we bemoan the fact that it's not as fabulous as we'd like!

So, perhaps it's time we asked ourselves what we can do about it... we might not be budding shopkeepers keen to open up a cool new business, BUT we are all consumers who can make choices and purchasing decisions everyday.

Many of us are now working at home? No need to drive to an office, so we've got some extra time to play with. Don’t sacrifice it by doing extra work, take a lunch, slam the laptop shut and get out as often as you can and meet the people making a living by operating fabulous shops, cafes, market stalls and restaurants in our area. Some fruit and veg from the market, or a pie for tea from a butchers perhaps … these are just suggestions there are plenty of other options!

‘The new normal’ - Perhaps IT IS NOT ten hours sat at the desk with a constant stream of interruptions as deliveries arrive at the door. IT IS the same eight hours at work but with an hour out and about picking up the days essentials, a great way to deal with the stress levels! The location for the job might have moved but the stress is still there, I bet.

I’ve talked before about the benefits to the immediate economy by spending money locally. £20.4 million directly into the local economy if each adult in Chesterfield spent just £5 with an independent and not a major retailer or chain store each week.

To quote Adam at Adam’s Happy Hens, when we walked up recently to pick up some food, we chatted as we do (another of the beauties of independents - you create a relationship and get to interact and socialise), and he mentioned how things work. “You buy from me and support our business, so I have an advert with you and support yours,” says Adam. That sums things up nicely for me, the money we spend is simply moving around the local economy, not siphoned away to make the rich richer.

Totally Locally, I’ve mentioned them before, are doing some amazing work to help independent businesses thrive, to help support towns and to encourage us to set up new initiatives, like National Fiver Fest where they ask independent businesses to set up deals for a fiver to encourage new customers across the threshold. At the moment, they are assessing dates for the next Fiver Fest, and I’ve set up a FB group Totallylocallychesterfield where I’m hoping independent businesses can talk to each other, share problems and concerns, and help cross-promote each other.

I’ve also met with a small group of Chesterfield Champions, where we discussed our view on why people don’t come into the town centre as often as they could and things we’d like to see to change, to widen the appeal and to increase footfall. I’ll share the outcomes of this when the time is right.

So, if you do one thing differently, could it be shop in town or your local shops? Give it a try, there’s a whole bunch of business owners who’d love to see you.

Words: Paul Chapman

Image: Totallylocally


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