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City businesses pivot to online, social media and zoom shopping to retain Christmas sales momentum

As Christmas approaches, the city’s retailers are having to take innovative measures to make sure the effects of lockdown 2.0 don’t affect Christmas sales, leaving businesses in financial straits in 2021.

City retailers have pivoted to create websites, use social media in innovative ways and some are booking one-to-one appointments and zoom calls to shop ‘digitally in person’.

Carl Critchlow, BID Manager said: ‘November is historically a huge month for Christmas shopping in Chester. The lockdown has delivered a devastating blow to our businesses – a huge percentage of them are independents without the infrastructures of e-commerce websites – so they can’t just close their doors and push online sales. Yet again, we’re seeing innovation and determination from our retailers as they push to transform their businesses to digital, to work alongside a traditional retail high street model.’

He added: ‘We would beseech shoppers to think twice about ordering from giant online corporations. It may take a little bit more time to do your shopping but it will keep the heart of our city by buying locally and independently.’

Chester children’s shop, Weasel and The Bug generates over forty percent of its annual revenue through Christmas shopping.

Katie Jones, owner, said: ‘I finessed my website in the first lockdown to make it really work for me - and it’s become so important to my business’s survival. We’re also promoting via Instagram stories more, promoting on other channels online and using a click and collect service.’

She added: ‘I’m relying on return customers to choose me over the international retailers and I’m hoping the ‘shop small’ movement that we are seeing across the country will help our independent and local businesses this year.’

Dawn Robinson, owner of woman’s fashion specialist Chester Boutique has used social media to virtually showcase her women’s fashion. She said: ‘We’ve had to reach our customers by any means that we can over the pandemic. Social has worked brilliantly for us – I’ve even modelled the outfits myself over lockdown, and then my customers can facetime me or dm me with any questions. I’ll sort out delivery or collection – all with the same personal service that I like to offer in store.’

Chester BID has created a Festive Digital High Street Map which offers an easy guide on how you can shop on Chester’s high street from the comfort of your own sofa. It features many of Chester’s beloved independent retailers with direct links to their individual ordering systems. www.experiencechester.co.uk/festive-high-street.

City retailers offering online and click and collect services are as follows:

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