Christmas is back on the horizon and as we all start to work out what to buy and for whom, I think considering where we buy our presents from has never been more important. That’s why this Christmas, I urge you to shop locally.

East Devon District Council has launched its #EastDevonly campaign using government funding to help encourage us all to shop locally and I am fully behind it. I know from conversations I’ve had with small, independent retailers throughout the pandemic just how tough it has been.

Now the vast majority of tourists have left, it’s never been more important to support our local businesses to protect jobs. There are also solid environmental reasons to shop locally compared to buying online or further afield. Less fossil fuel is used if you buy your gifts locally and less packaging is needed to get your gift to you. It’s a little grating how if you buy an item online, it often comes surrounded by mountains of plastic, cardboard, or paper that seem wildly excessive and mostly unnecessary.

As a Sidmouth resident, I plan to do my Christmas shopping locally. We’re not short of independent businesses across East Devon brimming with brilliant gifts. They aren’t all found on the high street either, we’re lucky to have many superb farm shops too.

Last week, I visited Knights Farm Shop in Fluxton which sells plenty of local produce and Christmas gift ideas, including a selection of festive hampers. I went to meet Emily from the shop following concerns about the impact of a road closure in Tipton St John on her business. I got in touch with the utility company digging up part of the road and Devon County Council. They’ve decided to limit the closure to just one day and night, a welcome relief for local businesses in the run-up to Christmas who thought the road would be out of action for a fortnight.

Shopping local has never mattered so much. We owe it to all our local retailers after a very uncertain time. Let’s support our local shops this Christmas!