Shoppers urged to safely support town centres and fuel Covid-19 recovery

“Take care and think local first” rallying cry for the region as Government supports Scotland’s Towns Partnership in a high-profile drive to help safely reignite the economy

People across Aberdeenshire are being urged to think local first and safety first as part of a major new campaign to help their town centres in the fightback from coronavirus.

Scotland’s Towns Partnership launches its Scotland Loves Local initiative today – in association with the Scottish Government – encouraging everyone to back businesses which are at the heart of their home communities.

It comes at a time when the need to safely and responsibly support town centres has never been greater as businesses battle to overcome the consequences of the massive disruption and temporary closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

As reopenings – whether they be shops, hairdressers, pubs or cafes – gather pace in line with strong public health requirements, the aim of Scotland Loves Local, a significant multi-media promotion, is to encourage people to make the most of what’s available close to them rather than immediately turning to large online retailers or travelling further afield.

Phil Prentice, Chief Officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said

The impact of coronavirus has hit our town centres and local businesses hard. Across Aberdeenshire we need to support them to get back on their feet in a way which recognises that we still need to stay safe and follow the public health guidelines.

The breadth of businesses in our town centres is vast. By thinking local first, the impact we will have in supporting our economic recovery should not be underestimated.

Scotland Loves Local is all about getting people back to their roots and recognising that our town centre businesses and the people who run them are part of the fabric of our communities. Sometimes for generations these people have been there for us. Now it’s time for us to be there for them. One of the great positives of the terrible times in which we have found ourselves has been the greater appreciation of localism. We must now harness that to keep our communities vibrant and lay firm foundations as we work to ensure our town centres are fit for the future.

Businesses have been working with Business Improvement Districts – including those in Peterhead and Inverurie – local authorities and others to put in place arrangements which mean people can shop locally, but safely. These arrangements include the use of screens, distance markers and signage, the provision of hand sanitizer instore and capacity limits.

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For Peterhead, the campaign launch comes as town centre businesses hope to feel the benefit of a soon-to-open multiplex Arc Cinema on Marischal Street and amid regeneration work at Drummers Corner.

As part of the recovery from coronavirus, Rediscover Peterhead has been helping many of its 215 business improvement district levy-payers to buy PPE as well as supporting them to develop their online offerings through a digital growth fund.

Leslie Forsyth, Manager of Rediscover Peterhead, said

There’s a lot happening in Peterhead. There are lots of businesses doing lots of good things in the town centre. Independent businesses are the future of our town centre. We hope that the Scotland Loves Local message will help us encourage local people to support them.

We have a diverse town centre. It is very much open for business and for local people to support it.

Scotland’s Communities Secretary, Aileen Campbell, said

It is now more vitally important than ever to consider shopping, eating and drinking locally as we all have a role to play in Scotland’s economic recovery. Simple steps like choosing to visit a nearby shop or café, or buying goods or services from a business in your own community, helps support jobs and goes a long way to fostering the vibrant selection of products and services on offer close to home.

By following the public health advice, we can all make exploring what the neighbourhood has to offer as safe as possible. I would encourage everyone who is able to head out and discover for themselves what living locally can offer them – I know that business owners at the heart of our communities will appreciate it immensely.

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