Southend traders’ bid to get tills jingling

Echo: Thorpe Bay shopkeepers – Ashok Kotecha, Sue and Mark Sanders, David Wilson, Sukhi Bhasin and Luke Adams. Thorpe Bay shopkeepers – Ashok Kotecha, Sue and Mark Sanders, David Wilson, Sukhi Bhasin and Luke Adams.

FREE parking and a packed programme of events will lure shoppers tomorrow as part of a national campaign to support small businesses.

Small Business Saturday is a scheme encouraging people to shop locally with independent traders.

Shops will be hosting live entertainment and giving out refreshments and some car parks in Southend will also be free as part of the celebrations.

Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff, is hosting a Victorian Christmas event which will include live performances from choirs, a Santa’s grotto and a festive market.

Michelle Wellsteed, manager of Casa Bonita on Hamlet court Road, said: “It’s a hugely important day. In Hamlet Court Road we’ve been fighting for some time for improvements to the road, so this kind of day really helps.

“This was such a big success in America they brought it over here. We’ve just had cyber Monday so we hope people have still got some shopping left to do and will come out and show their support for it.

“We started a traders association a year ago and during that time we’ve gone from strength to strength, so we really hope this is a success and will bring more people into the area for the future.”

Ruby Bhasin, of Cafe Ciao in Thorpe Bay Broadway, said the free parking incentive was a great way for people to come and visit, and will help the stores.

She said: “Anything that helps independent retailers on the Broadway is a bonus and welcome.”

Town’s throughout the Rochford district will also be taking part in the day’s celebrations.

Balloons and bunting will decorate the shops, and many will be holding competitions and promoting special offers throughout the day in Rochford, Rayleigh and Hockley.

Mike Steptoe, councillor responsible for economic development and regeneration at Rochford District Council, said: “Supporting small businesses is key to all communities in Rochford, as this encourages local areas and high streets to thrive, whilst also fostering a community spirit.

“For this reason, Shop at my Local is supporting and promoting Small Business Saturday, and hope that local businesses and residents will join us!”

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