SHOPKEEPERS across Wiltshire breathed a sigh of relief when they finally open their doors on Monday after months of lockdown.

In Devizes, Chippenham and Marlborough independent traders banded together to urge customers to shop local and to make sure the high streets survive.

Justina Pettifer, who is leading the Devizes campaign called Indie Devizes, has been delighted with the way retailers have banded together within just a few days.

She said: “It is incredible the way everyone has wanted to get involved. I think it really shows a lot about the town.

“We are all in this together and everyone is trying to be as optimistic as possible but we really do need the public to support us.”

Iain Wallis, who runs a teddy bear shop, and represents the Federation of Small Businesses, was equally positive.

He said: “Devizes is a very special town and the response to this shows how everyone wants to come together.”

Mary Boardman from Chippenham was shopping in Devizes on Tuesday. She said: “I come to Devizes at least once a week as I think it is a really great place.”

Chris Poyser who runs Urban Rustics gift and soft furnishing shop said: “Devizes is just amazing.”

Marlborough traders were first out of the traps by setting up a new group for independent traders and managed to get 80 shops to sign up.

They now have stickers in their windows showing they support the ‘love local’ campaign, with the plea that ‘the little guy needs you now’.

It was the brainchild of Karl Lloyd who runs The Kitchen Sisters burger restaurant at The Bear.

He said: “Since lockdown, our businesses have just stopped dead here. The financial threat created by months of little or no trade is reaching much closer to home.

“For many of us, everything is on the line.We are none of us far away from the financial edge – none of us make a fortune, at the best of times.”

In Chippenham the One Chippenham website set up by Chippenham Borough Lands Charity to be a one-stop place where local people can find community information has taken up the mantle of traders.

It is urging people to stay local, support local and to stay safe. A spokesman said: “It was back to business for many on Monday as non-essential shops can re-open their doors for shoppers for the first time in months.

“We urge people to support them.” It is asking shops to contact the website with their opening days and hours.

In Malmesbury the sun brought shoppers out to enjoy the chance to shop local. Lesley Wood said: “We have lots of fab shops now open in Malmesbury - French Grey, The Wild Food Company, The Cake Tin, A4 Stationers, Teasel Floristry, Persephone Violet and many more.

“Plus two hours free parking in Station Road car park and lots of take away coffees and pretty walks.”

Wider pedestrian areas have been created in the Upper High Street in Malmesbury to help people feel safe and confident.

Pubs, cafes and restaurants are now on tenterhooks awaiting the next three-weekly Covid-19 sit rep from the government. Some are already gearing up with country pubs hoping for good business as they have outdoor areas for social distance eating and drinking.

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