Residents in Leeds are being urged to ‘shop local’ and support independent retailers and small businesses in the run-up to Christmas.

Shops and small businesses were among the worst hit during the first national lockdown in March.

But business owners are nothing if not resilient. Some have pivoted their business models and others have innovated and adapted.

As many continue to operate behind closed doors during the second lockdown, a team of volunteers have relaunched their initiative to make supporting them that little bit easier.

‘Support Your Local, Leeds’ is a website set up by a group of friends in the early weeks of the pandemic.

The aim was to help and promote small businesses through the toughest of times.

And now, with the all-important Christmas trading period about to start, those behind the website are urging people in Leeds to shop local.

Gary Butterfield, who set up the website with friends Ashton Wesley and Owen Williams, said the 6,000-plus small businesses across Leeds needed support like never before.

“Christmas is a vitally-important time for many shops and small businesses,” said Gary. “Traditionally, a good Christmas can set a business up for success the following year. For some a huge percentage of their annual revenue comes from pre-Christmas trade.

“However, this year has been a year like no other and small businesses, often the lifeblood of their communities, have really struggled to make ends meet and keep the lights on.

“This Christmas by buying local we can not only find some great individual and thoughtful presents for our loved ones, but we can support the local businesses who support our communities throughout the year.”

Gary said internet-based retail giants had had it all their own way for too long and independent high street businesses were now matching them for home delivery and click and collect in lockdown.

“The internet giants have dominated and caused damage to locally-based shops and businesses over the years but customers can lead the fightback,” he said.

“Every pound we spend with a local independent business is a pound invested in our local community. If we all shop local we can help our communities thrive.”

‘Support Your Local, Leeds’ showcases independent shops, cafes and food outlets, creative businesses and freelancers, posting links to their websites. Think of it as your go-to place for indie businesses.

Listing is completely free, and the recently refreshed website takes no commission from purchases or business generated.

Ashton Wesley added: “This is not a business venture for us, it’s a service to our community. We created the website because we are passionate about supporting small businesses and we really hope people will rally behind them this Christmas.

“If we all stand together we can get through this – and emerge stronger at the other side.”

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Photo of empty Leeds by Gary Butterfield.