Breckland Council Leader William Nunn today (18 January) announced plans to create a ‘digital highstreet’ which will enable local people to quickly and easily shop at their small high street shops and independent retailers.
The council will work with website ShopAppy to bring independent shopkeepers together in Attleborough, Thetford, Dereham, Swaffham and Watton to be part of one mobile-friendly website. Customers will be able to browse products from local high street shops and pay for them in one transaction, with the added benefit of being able to ‘click and collect’ their shop at one of the shops or a designated pick-up-point in their town.
Speaking at a meeting of Full Council this morning, Cllr Nunn said: “We know that many people want to shop locally and support independent shops but above all they want convenience. Independent stores and small retailers add character to our high streets but many don’t have the resources to have a virtual presence, so it’s important that we assist them to survive and thrive.
“Our rural villages also rely on our market towns as hubs, so we need to do all we can to support them by fighting the challenges high streets up and down the country are facing. This exciting new venture will help level the playing for our towns’ independent shops that are competing with supermarkets and other big retailers.”
Breckland’s councillors supported Cllr Nunn’s proposal to work in partnership with ShopAppy and Breckland will become the first council outside of Yorkshire to roll-out this enterprise. ShopAppy has previously been featured on the BBC’s One Show tv programme.
The council, which will subsidise the first 200 businesses that sign up, will initially work with ShopAppy for three years as part of its Market Town Initiative, which aims to ensure each of Breckland’s towns remain vibrant and sustainable in the long-term.
Jackie Mulligan, Founder of ShopAppy, said “We are delighted to be supporting Breckland’s Market Town Initiative as this is a time when our market towns and local shops need to be safeguarded and supported. It is great to see Breckland Council taking such a pro-active approach to support local businesses who are so important to shaping the character of our towns as well as providing so many opportunities for local jobs and local producers.”
The council is now developing plans to engage with local businesses to encourage them to sign up to the ShopAppy initiative in the near future.