Love Your High Street: How you can help support our local small shops and businesses

RETAILERS are facing rising business rates and rents, while high parking charges and the loss of vital banking services have added to woes.

 And that is why today The News is joining up with Johnston Press’ national Love Your High Street campaign with the aim of focusing more attention on what can be done now to support small shops and businesses as shoppers look to spend their cash in the run up to Christmas. 

West Street, Fareham. Picture: Melanie Leininger

West Street, Fareham. Picture: Melanie Leininger

But for people to want to spend their hard-earned money  on high streets, traders and councillors have said work needs to be done to entice them.

Read more: ‘Retailers are under the cosh like never before’

Barrie Stevenson is the owner of antique store Deja Vu in Emsworth. He said: ' 'We're quite unique as a high street but I do believe the closure of banks in the town has affected trade, things have quietened down over the last few years.

‘I think it’s great for the media to highlight our local high streets and get more people shopping on them.’

Our high streets need our help

Our high streets need our help

Read more: We asked small business owners in the Portsmouth area how high streets need to change

In Fareham, a group of businesses have been brought together by The News to help revive West Street and traders have met with councillors to discuss ideas.

Shane Davies from arts and crafts shop, The Crafty Makery, said: ‘We all need to do this together to make it work and  it isn’t going to happen in five minutes but we can change things.’   

Themed shop decorations and late night Christmas shopping with entertainment are just some of ideas the Fareham traders are working hard to put into place.  

The other aims of the national campaign include calling for a reform on the business rates system, car parking charges and a government review of access to cash and digital payments as bank branches and ATMs close.      

 Steve Courtnell, from Pie & Vinyl in Southsea, said: ‘Starting a business independently in a gamble, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. For streets that have prominently independent stores it is great to have free parking as it boosts trades.’

 Nick Carter from Absolute Running in Gosport added: ‘You can’t just open your doors, put up a Facebook post and expect people to come in, we all need to work together at this and I think if there is a movement like this campaign then it can happen.’