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Lib Dems urge Treasury to help small shops conquer the online Christmas market

November 12, 2020 1:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have today called on the Treasury to make smart interventions to "even the playing field" and help small shops conquer the online Christmas market and rival online shopping giants.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Christine Jardine MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer stressing the importance of encouraging people to "shop small from home" to save the high street. She has urged "the PM to pay the postage" to make shopping from small independent shops a more viable option for lockdown buyers.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Christine Jardine MP commented:

"Small businesses across the country are feeling understandably anxious. For so many, Christmas is their most lucrative time of year. In England they've had to shut up shop and in the rest of the country footfall has nosedived.

"When people turn online to do their Christmas shopping free postage offers from online shopping giants and the ease of Amazon Prime are incredibly tempting. That makes it an even tougher climate for small business and shut shops.

"I'm asking the Chancellor to even the playing field and give small businesses the chance to thrive for online at-home shoppers.

"In the Summer the Chancellor launched a hugely expensive campaign to support the hospitality sector. We need to see this government go the extra mile to support small business in the festive period.

"We want the PM to pay the postage on online purchases from small local independent shops to make them a more viable option for people hunting for Christmas presents and encourage people to shop small from home."

The text of Christine Jardine's letter to the Chancellor can be found below:

Dear Rishi,

I would like to ask you to consider a support scheme for small businesses through the festive season which would help them in a similar way to the 'eat out to help out' campaign which the Government funded in the summer.

Small businesses in England are missing out on business in precious lucrative months and in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland footfall is still significantly reduced even though a full lockdown hasn't been imposed.

I urge you to explore pathways to pay the postage on online purchases from small local independent shops to make them a more viable option for people hunting Christmas presents and encourage people to shop small from home.

The free postage offers from online shopping giants and the ease of using Amazon Prime are incredibly tempting for those Christmas shopping online.

Paying postage on each individual Christmas purchase is a burden that is likely to repel shoppers from picking small retailers. That makes it an even tougher climate for small business and shut shops.

The prohibitive nature of these costs rings especially true for those in remote or rural communities for whom delivery charges are unjustly steep.

I am urging to embrace this idea as a way to stimulate traffic to small business sites. Removing the delivery cost burden would encourage shoppers to select individual items from different small shops - rather than resorting to bulk buy from large suppliers.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Christine Jardine