I hope you enjoyed the reindeer parade this year. What you may not have been aware of is that Saturday 2nd December was also Small Business Saturday, a day for encouraging people to go and see what their local independent businesses have to offer.
Taking a closer look around town, I found some excellent businesses I’d overlooked or forgotten about. In many instances, by actually going in to chat to shopkeepers and see what they had on sale, I noticed items that I would not usually associate with their shops.
But it is not enough just to support independent Llanelli town centre businesses for one day. They need our support all year round. This year, Lee Waters AM and I will be visiting and promoting local businesses throughout December.
With people turning increasingly to the internet to shop, the challenge for our town centres is becoming ever greater. Even the towns selected by government to receive special funding and the expertise of retail guru Mary Portas failed to find any easy answers.
There have been many physical improvements to various parts of the town centre. It is good to see the Stepney Arcade being done up, but we still need to think of new ways to bring people in.
Lee Waters AM and I are holding two daytime events this week – in Llanelly House and upstairs in the library – and I hope many of those attending will also take time to pop into the shops.
Certainly, making sure there are places to work and live both in and around the town centre helps to increase footfall, as do good transport links and easy parking, but we also have to define clearly what it is that we want from our town centre. And, as they say, use it or lose it.
This article appeared in the Llanelli Star on Wednesday 13th December.