NI shoppers are urged to support small retailers
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has urged shoppers in the province to put small shops first over the festive season.
Speaking ahead of Small Business Saturday, which will be held on December 3, NIIRTA chief executive Glyn Roberts said: "Shoppers have a real opportunity to do their bit and support their local shops on Small Business Saturday and throughout the Christmas period.
"Independent retailers offer quality, choice and something different to the multiple retailers."
Small Business Saturday is an annual celebration of small, independent retailers. It started in the US, where it's been championed by President Barack Obama.
And in the UK, a Small Business Saturday bus has been travelling around to hand out free marketing packs and information to small businesses wanting to get involved. The bus visited Ballymena, Strabane and Coleraine last week.
The organisation Small Business Saturday UK has said that around £623m was spent with small firms on the day last year - up £119m on 2014.
Chris Wales, business development manager at Ballymena Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "Ballymena is proud of the variety and number of independent retailers in the town and shopping local can only be a good thing for all."
Campaign director Michelle Ovens said: "Small Business Saturday is not just a campaign to raise awareness of our diverse and innovative small business sector, but also a vehicle from which small businesses which embrace and make use of the campaign can derive tangible benefits."