Shopping local was crucial for many businesses throughout the COVID pandemic, with some owing their survival to the support from communities.
When the first lockdown came to an end, many noticed that consumer habits didn’t change, with customers continuing to buy from them rather than returning to national chains.
According to Barclaycard, many individuals have chosen to purchase from local companies during the pandemic, with 57 per cent saying they wanted to increase their support of nearby businesses as a result of restrictions.
Shop owners are now thanking communities for their help over the last 12 months, but also encouraging people not to stop now.
Ben Hartley, manager of Hartley’s, a family-run fruit and veg shop on the high street in Holywell, started the business four years ago after being inspired by his taid, who sold produce at markets.
He said: “We are extremely grateful to the public for their support. What started as a temporary alternative for some has now become a first option.
“You might not think placing an order helps, but it makes a huge difference. We are surrounded by supermarkets with lower prices, but people have discovered we can sell better quality and more variety. Not only that, but it greatly impacts our livelihood.
“When we first went into lockdown, we had 200 hundred orders per day, with 15 to 16 deliveries each day, this compares to six deliveries per week before COVID. Our small team worked 4am until 9pm throughout to ensure people got their produce.
“The community spirit shone through again during the focus on free school meals. We placed some boxes of free fruit and veg outside the shop for any families who might’ve been struggling and in response, customers came in and left money behind the till to back it.”
“Our goal was to pay our rent through deliveries and we achieved that thanks to everyone who bought from us.”
Looking ahead, Ben is urging Flintshire residents to continue to shop with local businesses as lockdown restrictions ease, with many traders still battling for survival.
He added: “Local companies are not out of the woods yet. We very much need people to continue to buy from nearby independent companies to help the hard-working owners and employees survive as we come out of the pandemic.”
“Purchasing from us also benefits other local businesses. We love to champion Flintshire brands, for example our potatoes coming from Greenfield.”
“It’s not just the produce on sale for us. We’re looking forward to welcoming people back to our tearoom with our extended café menu, which we know people will love.”
“Our message is simple: please continue to shop local as it makes more of a difference than you realise.”