High Peak residents urged to shop local this Christmas

It’s been a tough year for High Peak businesses so with Christmas fast approaching, there’s never been a better time to shop local.

Whether you are looking for a unique Christmas gift or something a bit special for yourself this festive season, the High Peak has a fantastic range of wonderful independent shops.

The run-up to Christmas is set to be busy with people keen to make the most of the festivities after the Covid restrictions in place last year.

Jenny Rothwell makes jewellery and is one of more than 20 artists who jointly run The Gallery in New Mills.

Lauren Holmes of Wild Olive

The Gallery sells contemporary art and craft made in the High Peak to suit all budgets. The artists and makers staff the gallery themselves, hang all the artwork and change the work on view every few weeks to fit the seasons.

She said: “New Mills has become quite a community for independent retailers.

“We are more on the tourist trail than we have ever been thanks to the festival and Visit New Mills which is making us busier. There are so many independent shops in New Mills and it’s a collaboration not a competition. We all support each other.

“During the first lockdown we had to adapt so we had a chance of surviving and we turned to social media and selling things online.

The Gallery in New Mills is looking forward to welcoming shoppers this Christmas

“When restrictions started lifting I think something changed for people.

Customers have become more aware of where their money is going and want to get meaningful gifts rather than spending money just to buy a gift for the sake of it.

“This Christmas I would love to see more people shopping locally, shopping with the person who has a face and you can chat to and learn about the providence of what you are buying and exploring the amazing talent we have here in the High Peak.

“Every single purchase you make with a local trader makes a difference.”

Shopping in Buxton

To help people shop locally, parking in High Peak Borough Council (HPBC) car parks is free every Saturday in the run-up to Christmas.

Councillor Damien Greenhalgh, HPBC deputy leader and executive councillor for regeneration, tourism and leisure, said: “Christmas is always a special time in the High Peak but especially so this year as people return to town centres to shop, socialise and enjoy the seasonal events.

“It’s always a key period for shops and businesses and, this year more than ever, they need us all to show them our support by shopping locally and buying the gifts and food and drink that make Christmas special from High Peak businesses and retailers.

“We’re offering free parking in our car parks every Saturday from now until the big day itself, in addition to our residents’ free parking permits, so there’s every reason to put High Peak at the top of your list this year.

“We’re supporting our high streets to thrive and everyone can help by shopping locally this Christmas – and throughout the new year too.”

The council has also used Welcome Back funding to support a range of activities to ensure a safe return to towns and villages. Christmas sales can account for between a third and nearly two-thirds of a retailer’s annual turnover and research on spending by local authorities shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business.

Lauren Holmes, founder of the Wild Olive in the Cavendish Arcade, said: “The pandemic has changed people’s attitudes to shopping. People haven’t been going abroad so they have found a love of local again.

“From butchers to florists to gift shops, when you shop there you are getting the passion and knowledge of the seller.

“Everyone who shops with us supports a family, keeps a dream alive and staff in a job.”

The Wild Olive sells bath, body and fragrance items in Buxton’s historic quarter.

Lauren said: “I’d like this Christmas to be a chance for people who maybe would not have shopped locally to just give it a go.

“I can’t wait to welcome back familiar faces and say hello to new people this Christmas.

“I think you’d be surprised if you do, not just with what you’re getting but the whole experience too.

“I also think shopping locally feels safer at the moment than being crammed in to huge soulless shopping centres.

“It’s great there has been a revival in shopping locally and long may it continue.”

Coun Greenhalgh added: “Everyone is welcome to come to the High Peak and we want people to feel that it’s safe for them and their loved ones so, in line with revised England-wide regulations, we’re asking people to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport and to take a test before meeting up with others.

“We all want to see our families and friends to celebrate the season so let’s all take care of each other whilst enjoying these final weeks leading up to Christmas.”

A special Facebook page – www.facebook.com/LocalGiftGuide – has been set up by the council to promote local businesses and highlight special offers.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. – Louise Cooper, editor.