Shop local on the Virtual High Street this Christmas
The Virtual High Street now has over 350 business signed up from Sudbury, Hadleigh, Stowmarket, Needham Market and Eye as well as surrounding towns and villages.
With everything from fashion to food, the Virtual High Street is home to a range of independent retailers, market stalls, cafés, restaurants, and professional services allowing customers to browse, order online and click & collect to help with Christmas shopping.
In Sudbury, shoppers can find special offers at Mandy’s Jewellery and Gifts, Premier Travel and Adventure Bike Shop Ltd. While in nearby Hadleigh, there are fantastic deals with Papillion, Hadleigh Maid, BGA Print, Sweet Memories and Fleurs Nails and Beauty.
The Virtual High Street in Needham Market launched this September and many of the businesses have been keen to get involved and share their Christmas offers. Shoppers will be able to find discounts and offers at Elton House News, Vintro Interiors, The Angel, Casa Louise, the Post Office, Little Stylish Gifts, and Coffee Craft N Moore.
In Stowmarket there are festive offers at Baldwins, Langhams, Handy Hardware and Choose Refills while in Eye, Fleurs Artisan and Bruha Brewing also have great deals for customers.
It is free for businesses to join the Virtual High Street and any local business who would like to join the Christmas campaign still has time to get involved and promote their own offers.
Cllr Michael Holt, Babergh District Council’s cabinet member for economic growth commented:
“The Virtual High Street has provided real support to a number of Babergh’s businesses and, for many, offered a digital presence for the first time. With the festive shopping season soon upon us, it’s fantastic to see so many businesses taking part.
“Spending just £5 on the local high street can have a huge impact to local businesses and the wider local economy. Our high streets have much to offer shoppers this Christmas whether they are visiting the Virtual High Street, our popular markets or independent shops and restaurants.”
As part of the Councils wider vision for its key towns, the Virtual High Street is helping town centre businesses to be more resilient, add to their high street presence and provide a crucial role to boost the local economy.
Cllr Suzie Morley, leader, Mid Suffolk District Council commented:
“The way we shop has changed over the last 18 months and more people are choosing to shop local and support their high streets. This Christmas, the Virtual High Street is making it even easier to shop local when looking for gifts and seasonal treats.
“The Virtual High Street is just one of the initiatives that Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are running to help support businesses after the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic.”
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have developed a programme of activity to support business recovery post-Covid. In addition to the Virtual High Street, there is also a digital skills programme, an Innovate Local initiative for start-ups and an Innovation Network. Additional funding from the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund (SIGIF) has been used to help the region’s businesses grow and innovate.
The first Virtual High Street was built upon a concept launched in Sudbury in March 2020 after Sudbury Town Council identified an opportunity to support businesses during the first national lockdown. In October, following investment from Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils, the platform was relaunched with additional functionality and welcomed over 100 businesses within the first month.
Earlier this year, the Virtual High Street was recognised at the iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards 2021,winning gold in the Asset Management and Regeneration category. The award was presented in response to the innovative way that the councils worked with key partners to support businesses impacted by unprecedented closures during the Covid-19 lockdowns.