RESIDENTS are being urged to support local businesses during their Christmas shopping.

And to help shoppers find independent businesses, North Yorkshire County Council has compiled a Buy Local online directory that lists hundreds of traders.

Council chief executive, Richard Flinton, said: “The run-up to Christmas is a crucial time for many businesses, and we’ll all be thinking about our Christmas shopping.

"As they deal with the impact of the national restrictions, I urge everybody to think and buy local – think of North Yorkshire businesses first.

"Many of our businesses have great online and delivery or click and collect offers, and we have nearly 800 businesses that can be accessed on Buy Local.

“Even if they are classed as ‘non-essential’ and their high street shops are closed, a lot of the businesses on Buy Local can still serve you online or over the phone – they need your custom more than ever.”

The Northern Echo:

Charlotte Gale, owner of Charlotte Gale photography based in Knaresborough

One small business which has had to evolve and re-invent itself constantly this year is Spring House Farm Shop near Northallerton.

Owner Neil Hellawell said of the local restrictions: “We’ve changed an awful lot, we’d already geared up, we knew what was coming.”

Neil and his partner, Judith, have switched from a cosy café to offering most of their food business as takeaway.

They have also gone out of their way to help customers feel safe by offering a Covid-secure ‘Call and Collect’ service and putting stringent safety measures in place in their shop.

Of their ‘Call and Collect’ service Neil said: “It’s nowhere near the amount of boxes that we did last time, however we do know that there’s quite a few come into the shop to do their own shopping because they say they need sanity, and an excuse to come out of the house.

"And they say they feel safe to come into our place, so that’s positive, and we have seen an increase in people coming in the shop and getting their weekly shop now.

“For our Covid-secure call and collect we’ve just invested a bit more, we’ve bought a contactless card machine, which means we can go outside and take a payment, so if customers don’t want to pay over the phone they don’t have to.”

Charlotte Gale, owner of Charlotte Gale photography based in Knaresborough, and online greeting card business, said: “The Buy Local Directory gives me an easy and effective way of promoting my online Christmas card shop to a wider audience and helps make up for some of my lost retail earnings.”

The Buy Local directory can be found here