Buy your presents on your doorstep in St Albans or Harpenden this Christmas

THERE’S still time to show your support for the district’s independent retailers this Christmas and buy your presents locally.

The Herts Advertiser’s Home for the Holidays campaign aims to encourage shoppers to use their local retailers for all of their Christmas needs.

We have been highlighting some of the superb, unique services available in our local towns from independent retailers and speaking to a range of experts who have helped explain exactly why it is vital we all support our local shops.

Herts Advertiser editor Matt Adams said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the level of support we’ve received for our Home for the Holidays campaign, both from retailers and shoppers alike, and hope we have done our bit to persuade people that it’s worth patronising our independent retailers, instead of taking it for granted that they’ll still be around this time next year.”

Richard Cohen, owner of newly-opened Eternity Jewellers on Holywell Hill, said: “Keeping the choice of small independent retailers in St Albans is essential if we are to have a thriving shopping centre that can compete with centres such as The Harlequin and Westfield, Stratford.

“Without independent retailers St Albans will become a bland copy of every other high street with more empty retail units having a range of independently owned shops adds vibrancy and diversity to our shopping centres.

“As well as stocking unique items that can’t be found in every chain, independent retailers also take great pride in the service we offer. We will take the time to find out what a customer is looking for and going the extra mile to get that special something they are looking for.

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“If this Christmas you are struggling to find gifts that will be treasured beyond the 12th day of Christmas and won’t simply be a variation on the usual presents you’ve given then St Albans residents could save time by paying a visit to the small independent shops nestled on the high street. What’s more they will even find the experience enjoyable.”

Sunday opening in Harpenden High Street has been a great success in the run-up to Christmas.

Ron Taylor of the Harpenden Society, one of the motivating forces behind the initiative, was very pleased that it is proving to be a winner:

“We have encouraged town centre shops to open on Sundays at this time of year”, said Ron, “it has proved that extra trade can be generated. Shops such as Purple Fashion and Threads andbusinesses such as Breathing Space Day Spa and Studio have reported increases in business.”

Ron Taylor explained that there is a ‘Thriving High Street’ campaign group made up of a variety of local organisations including the Harpenden Retail Partnership and the town council, which emphasises that residents can shop locally without having to travel miles to shopping centres.

Sunday December 23 will be a particularly busy day with people attending the last Harpenden farmers’ market before SChristmas.

Lara Wares, the owner of Threads, said she was very pleased with the initiative: “Sunday opening in the run up to Christmas has been brilliant for us, up 20 per cent on 2011. Toys, cards, decorations and scarves are all selling well.”

Purple owner Paul Monks said: “It is important for us to open on a Sunday so customers who may work from Monday to Friday have the opportunity to shop with us. The town as a whole would benefit from other shops opening on a Sunday, making Harpenden more of a shopping opportunity for locals and surrounding areas.”

Keith Lunn, the owner of Breathing Space, was also very positive: “Despite the poor weather, the last couple of Sundays have been busy and it’s great to see more people in town enjoying the atmosphere which has been helped by the increased number of shops open for business. We will definitely be opening every Sunday.”