SHOPPERS are being urged to give local firms a boost in the run up to Christmas by supporting their local high streets and rural businesses.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) wants people to get behind Small Business Saturday, in particular – which takes place tomorrow.
They are keen for people to explore the area’s fantastic array of small, independent shops, bars, restaurants and other services.
Local politicians from various political parties are backing the campaign in the Highlands and Islands, with Inverness MP Drew Hendry and MSPs John Finnie and David Stewart were delighted to drop in on the Music Shop in Inverness’s Church Street to highlight the importance of the day.
David Richardson, the FSB’s development manager in the Highlands and Islands, said: "The FSB recognises that our high streets and small businesses face challenges that cannot be resolved by a single day’s trading.
"However, if we urge our communities to use the busiest shopping day of the year to support the rich array of amazing businesses to be found right on their doorsteps, we can give these firms a real boost and, hopefully, persuade new customers to return to these same businesses time and time again."
Last year, customers spent £717 million with small UK businesses on Small Business Saturday, an increase of 15 per cent on 2015 spending.
Drew Hendry – SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey – said: "Small Business Saturday is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the contribution our small retailers make to our towns and communities.
"These unique businesses play a huge part in making the Highlands such a great place to live, work and of course visit.
"Across our constituency I have seen first-hand the passion, dedication and hard work put into these small businesses.
"This, along with their unique products and personal service really makes them the top choice for festive shopping.
"I would encourage everyone to shop small – not only on Saturday but throughout this festive season and into the New Year."
Labour Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart said small businesses are key to our local economy as they employ local people, provide quality services, offer locally produced commodities and are usually located right in the heart of our communities.
"Because they are smaller, they can offer a better service of customer care and can cater for individual needs and requirements," he said.
"I ask constituents to support this initiative by shopping locally and at these small businesses."
There was also support from Greens regional MSP John Finnie.
"We have lots of fantastic small businesses in Inverness and across the Highlands and Islands and for many of them this can be the make or break time of the year," he said.
"Big retailers, whose profits leak out of the local economy, have an unfair advantage and I believe that we need to do everything we can to provide small businesses with a more level playing field.
"I want to see more support for small and micro-businesses to help them thrive. We need to see investment in our streets to encourage walking and cycling to local shops."
Small Businesses Saturday is designed to celebrate and support the country’s small business community, encouraging the public to reach out and try the products and services they supply.
For more visit www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com