Northern Ireland shoppers urged to spend locally
Independent traders across Northern Ireland have appealed for public support ahead of Small Business Saturday this weekend.
The aim of the campaign – supported by the Northern Ireland Assembly – is to encourage people to make a special effort to shop locally on December 7.
It is hoped shoppers will continue to visit their local high streets and support local traders in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.
Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) boss Glyn Roberts, who is also chair of Small Business Saturday NI, said it was a far-reaching economic initiative.
"Small Business Saturday is not just a 'shop local' campaign, it is about highlighting the huge contribution all of our small businesses make to the economy in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK," he said.
A number of independent businesses have pledged to offer special discounts and offers this Saturday to mark the occasion.
Among them is the Co Antrim mini-department store, McKillens of Ballymena.
Managing director Thomas McKillen (50) said: "It's one of the major Saturdays before Christmas Day and we're looking forward to welcoming shoppers to our wide range of shoes, fashion and accessories."
Joe Quail, who runs Quails Fine Foods in Banbridge, also called on customers for their support.
"We like to see shoppers supporting local traders because for every pound that's spent, we put more back into the local community than the bigger businesses," he said.
Belfast-based bar general manager Gerry White said the doors of The John Hewitt would be wide open in anticipation of thirsty punters.
"It will be out 14th birthday on December 19, so we're hoping to see people dropping in to help us celebrate," he said.
"We're a not-for-profit organisation that puts all profits into Belfast Unemployment Resource Centre."
Ulster Unionist economy spokeswoman Sandra Overend MLA said this is a very important time of the year for retailers.
"Initiatives like Small Business Saturday will hopefully help to promote our local businesses, and ensure people are aware not only of the merchandise they offer, but also the contribution they make to the Northern Ireland economy."