THE BEST PRESENT FOR RETAILERS IS TO BUY LOCAL

I hope you all survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday with your sanity, if not your credit card, intact.

There is no doubt these shopping phenomena have caught on in recent years and help stimulate retail activity in the High Street as well as online.

They mark the build up to the Christmas rush and many shops will be hoping that the buying frenzy that started with these now annual events will continue past the festive lead-in and into the January sales.

According to one report, Christmas shoppers will spend £48.7 billion in the UK during December, including nearly £24 billion from non-food sales, with more than £4 billion coming from online sales generated by physical stores.

Another analysis predicts that online shopping could more than double its share of the retail market by 2028. Younger people who have grown up with buying on the internet will help drive up online retail sales to around 53 per cent of the market, up from around 20 per cent at present.

While shopping online can be convenient, there is nothing like seeking out something individual and personal for a loved one that hasn’t just taken seconds to click and collect.

Shopping local is a great way of finding that special gift while also having the additional feelgood factor of supporting a local trader.

Inverness Chamber of Commerce fully supports campaigns to buy local, including Inverness BID’s recent promotion of independent traders which provide a fantastic range of unique gifts, not just for Christmas but all year round.

We should all do everything we can to ensure Inverness is a vibrant, welcoming centre that maintains independent outlets offering something different to shoppers and showcasing the best of local products and produce.

That is why we also back plans to refurbish the Victorian Market and the ongoing development of Inverness’s Old Town where a number of new hotels, pubs, retail outlets and residential accommodation are being built or planned.

These projects will be transformative and help create a thriving, year-round hub for the benefit of both customers and businesses, building on the buzz surrounding the festive season and summer festivals and concerts.

Together with our out-of-town businesses, which offer a different shopping experience, we have the choice and accessibility to keep it local this year and in future.