OPINION: Small Business Saturday is so important this year

North Devon Gazette

There seems to be a special day of the year for practically everything nowadays.

Some of these you may question whether they deserve such recognition. However, one which I believe we should support is the Small Business Saturday which this year is on 4th December.Â

The UK event to promote small businesses started in 2013 and has grown in popularity year on year and nationwide is becoming a significant occasion. For example, £1.1 billion was spent with small businesses during last year’s event.Â

As a result of the pandemic more people are now working from home rather than commuting to work and this special day gives us the chance to continue to encourage our local entrepreneurs and help them to be successful.Â

NDC believes that this is an excellent opportunity to further promote our many small businesses and to celebrate the contribution smaller businesses make to our economy and life in our area.Â

With around 4,000 businesses in North Devon, small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities and local high streets. By supporting our local independent businesses, we can help our high streets, village shops and tourist industry to thrive.Â

A motion by councillor Ian Roome at the November Full District Council meeting urged the council to continue to work closely with local business organisations and enterprises to make them aware of Small Business Saturday and encourage them to be part of it.Â

The event will be promoted through the council’s website, social media channels and other external communications. It fits in with the Live, Love, Local campaign which encourages residents and visitors to North Devon to buy local produce.Â

NDC recognizes that buying local produce reduces the carbon footprint and helps in the fight against climate change. The motion also highlighted the need to speed up the provision of superfast broadband in our rural areas.Â

You may have heard that NDC is offering free car parking at selected times during December to encourage shoppers during the Christmas period. In our North Devon car parks after 3 p.m. on all Thursdays up to and including December 23rd we will not be charging. Be aware though those charges will revert to normal on the following morning.Â

Also in Christmas week, shoppers will be able to have free parking in all NDC managed car parks in Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and South Molton from 4pm. That is from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th December with the Thursday being free from 3pm. Hopefully, this will help to stagger the rush in our town centres and give everyone the opportunity of enjoying the lights, hospitality and Christmas decorations.Â

Barnstaple, for example, will host late night shopping in the town centre shops and the Pannier Market - every Thursday until Christmas, with street food traders, unique gift stalls and musicians until 9pm.Â

The Pannier Market will also be open seven days a week during December. South Molton’s Pannier Market is also going to be open for business on the first three Friday afternoons in December from 3.30pm until 8.00pm in the evening.Â

I hope that you will agree that the late-night Christmas shopping events - coupled with free parking - present a great opportunity for us to enjoy the festive atmosphere, buy some unique Christmas gifts and perhaps be tempted by a mince pie or two.Â

With so many events taking place throughout North Devon at this time of the year you may like to download the new Dscvr app.

This will enable you to find a host of festive special offers and Christmas events which are happening throughout the month.Â

The app connects the user to their local town, high street, shopping centre or community by guiding them to the area’s local shops, restaurants, events and experiences.Â

A QR code to download the app, plus more information is available through the North Devon Council’s website.