HELENSBURGH is a “varied, vital, vibrant and viable” shopping town, according to feedback from a new survey.

Research conducted by Community Links, which was commissioned last month by Argyll and Bute Council to generate a ‘shop local’ campaign for the region’s main towns, suggests that Helensburgh residents believe the area has a “strong retail offering”.

The results of the survey also show that most people feel there isn’t an excess of charity shops or unoccupied units, unlike in other comparable towns.

‘Shop local’ artwork, posters, and messaging ideas will now be taken forward to encourage people to back local independent businesses and support their recovery from the Covid-19 economic slump.

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A draft design brief for the Helensburgh ‘shop local’ campaign has been prepared, which members of the public were able to comment on up until Sunday, November 8, while the next stage in the process will see a professional designer produce a poster based on the feedback.

The design proposal states: “The purpose of the poster is to inform local people that Helensburgh retailers offer the range, quality, pricing and convenience that shoppers want.

“The call to action is that local people should choose to spend in the local shops as the default ‘first’ option, rather than out of town supermarkets or online retailers.

“The ultimate outcome is that retail spend in the local economy is maximised.

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“People and businesses in Helensburgh explicitly rejected the ‘support your local business’, ‘use it or lose it’ messages that characterise many other shop local posters/campaigns.

“Helensburgh felt that the town’s retail offer was strong and did not need to plead for support. Instead, Helensburgh felt that the town’s strong retail offer simply needed to be celebrated and promoted to local shoppers.

“The slogan suggested which best delivered this message was ‘You can find it in Helensburgh’, with a possible sub-slogan/strapline of ‘because Helensburgh has got it!’”

The feedback also said: “The key message for this poster is that the retail offer in Helensburgh has the choice of goods that shoppers want to buy, hence there is no need to look elsewhere.

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“Leading on from the assertion that Helensburgh had a strong retail offer which simply needed to be promoted was a recognition that not all local people were sufficiently aware of the range and quality of goods available in Helensburgh. Online resources are available which the poster will include links to.

“Other factors that were raised as good reasons to choose to shop locally include: a perception that local shops present a lower Covid-19 risk than larger supermarkets; a view that the choice and personal service in local shops is better; a view that the opportunity to get to know friendly local retailers made shopping a more pleasant experience; an awareness that many local shops also offer a delivery or ‘click-and-collect’ service that can support people who are shielding and can compete with online retailers; and a view that shopping locally presents greater opportunities for reduction in the volume of waste packaging.

“Reports from local people suggest that restrictions on, and changes in, behaviour associated with Covid-19 led to a reduction in people choosing to use supermarkets and an increase in use of local retailers.”

For more information, visit shoplocal-argyll-bute.co.uk/helensburgh.

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