MP WRITES: Small Business Saturday deserves to be backed

Hartlepool's Middleton Grange shopping centre
Hartlepool's Middleton Grange shopping centre

WE are now into December, the weather has turned very cold and you can’t turn on the radio without hearing Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’.

In our house, we have achieved some sort of personal family record. Our Christmas tree went up last Sunday, when it was still actually in November.

Looking round Hartlepool, I think a lot of people did the same thing. Our tree actually went up before the big tree in Trafalgar Square, which is unheard of.

And on Monday, 1 December, it officially became the festive season because our favourite Christmas CD, featuring the kids’ favourite, Frosty the Snowman (with “Frosty” being pronounced in a great Brooklyn, “Noo York” type accent), can now be played in the car.

People are therefore well into their Christmas shopping phase. The town seems busier than ever as people stock up on Christmas stocking fillers.

We’ve had over the past couple of weeks events you might have seen or even participated in.

There was Black Friday, where there were bargains galore to be had. There was also something called Cyber Monday, where on-line retailers provided further discounts.

However, I hope this coming Saturday, December 6, (which also happens to be my dad’s birthday – Happy Birthday Dad!), you will support Small Business Saturday.

Hartlepool certainly has its large retailers, but also still has great independent small businesses.

Despite the recession and despite the changes that people have made to their shopping habits over the course of the last few years – more people buying in large supermarkets, more people buying on-line – our town still has great small businesses that would welcome your custom.

Small Business Saturday came from America. The idea behind it is for people, when they are doing their shopping this coming Saturday, to move their custom from large companies to smaller, independent traders.

This has a massive impact for small businesses, ensuring that they can secure more money in the tills for their businesses, which will hopefully mean further trade and perhaps more jobs generated by those businesses.

This coming Saturday is the second year that Small Business Saturday has run in this country.

Last year was a huge success: it was estimated that throughout the country about half a billion pounds extra was generated for small businesses as a direct result of Small Business Saturday.

The prospects for this year are even higher – some estimates are stating that about £600m will be generated for small businesses.

That is a lot of trade and support for small businesses. Given that there hasn’t been a huge promotional campaign, with much of the communication being carried out by the small businesses themselves, together with word of mouth and use of social media like Twitter and Facebook, it has been a remarkable achievement.

I do hope that you will support Small Business Saturday in Hartlepool this coming weekend.

Many businesses rely on local trade, and your custom this Saturday will secure good enterprises in the town and will hopefully mean that they will grow and thrive and support more jobs in Hartlepool.