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Shop local this Christmas

Christmas is a time of giving to those you most love.  It is also a time for loyalty to family, friends and community.

For those of us living in Derry, our city is at the heart of that community.  It is a city that we want to preserve.  So the message of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is – please shop local this Christmas.

Our retailers, bars and hotels have struggled in recent years.  Many traders are now seeing their way out of bad times, but they still need customer loyalty.

Derry continues to face big problems in our economy.  Many people are unemployed, many of our communities are poor.  We have two ways of turning that around.  We need to attract more money from elsewhere – through exports, investment and jobs.  But our city also needs to keep within Derry-Londonderry more of the money that has been earned here.

So shopping local is a very important consideration in keeping our city going as a retail hub.  We need to attract people from elsewhere, but we also need the people of our city to show loyalty to it, by shopping here.

It is clear from the queues of cars coming into the city centre in recent weekends that many people are shopping in Derry this year.  Indeed, it seems as if the city is winning back many customers who perhaps shopped elsewhere in recent years, or who had bought their Christmas shopping on the internet.

They are recognising the positives of city centre shopping that the internet cannot match.  Dropping into a cafe for a tea, or a restaurant for a meal is part of making a shopping experience a pleasure rather than a chore.  And part of Derry’s transformation in recent years has been about the improvement in public spaces, plus the plethora of quality new cafes and restaurants.

So the Chamber of Commerce is pleased to see the busy-ness in the city this Christmas.  And if you are tempted to shop online and buy goods from a faceless multinational that has no local presence, then please think again.  Loyalty to local shopkeepers is essential.  If you do not support those retailers, they may not be here to support you next Christmas.