ON THE eve of Small Business Saturday, independent shops in Gwent have renewed calls for people to offer their support this Christmas by shopping local.

It comes as small businesses face fresh uncertainty heading into the festive period and the new year.

Organisers of this weekend’s Small Business Saturday have called for a significant show of support and to use the annual event as a chance to recognise the contribution of independent businesses to communities during lockdown.

Lucy Hywel, who owns a gift shop called That’s Lovely That in Abergavenny and is the secretary of the Y Fenni Business Community is confident that the town is in for a good Christmas.

Ms Hywel is also the secretary of the Y Fenni Business Community.

“Three weeks ago, I had my busiest Saturday,” Ms Hywel told the Argus.

“I’m feeling optimistic that we’re in for a good Christmas here in Abergavenny. It’s really busy at the moment which is great to see.”

The Monmouthshire town continues to be a sought-after location for new, small business ventures. Donned the food capital of Wales, it boasts a range of independent restaurants and coffee shops – some of which arrived post-lockdown.

Ms Hywel said: “I’m really proud of what we have in Abergavenny. We have a great variety of independent shops here and we’re seeing a lot of support for them too.

“We want to see that support continue to grow as it will give us a real boost as we head into an uncertain new year.”

Elsewhere in Newport, it’ll be the first weekend that people can make use of free bus travel in the city. The scheme will run until December 24 with the aim of encouraging shoppers to support small businesses over the festive season.

Newport City Council has been providing business grants for several years that offer support for those considering starting their own venture and those who want their business to grow.

Its budget to help small and medium-sized businesses was increased this year to £300,000.

Leader of the council, Cllr Jane Mudd said: “During the pandemic, we were able to support businesses in the city through the distribution of millions of pounds of grants and non-domestic rate relief.

“This year I wanted to do more to help our local small and medium-sized businesses who are ready to expand their businesses and those who are just starting up.

“Our businesses are vital to the success and prosperity of Newport and we know they are resilient, forward-thinking and innovative. We will continue to back them whenever we can, working as partners to fulfill the potential of our city and its residents.

“In addition, our free bus initiative – which runs until 24 December – is designed to encourage people to stay local and use local businesses. We have many wonderful small, independent businesses in the city which need and deserve our support.”

Research by Small Business Saturday supporter American Express found that while small business confidence is starting to rebound, ongoing challenges include the cost of goods, rising energy prices and product shortages.

An estimated £1.1 billion was spent with small businesses across the UK on the same day last year.

Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday, said: “We all need to show small businesses our love this weekend. Not only do they make a massive contribution to our economy, but an immeasurable difference to all our lives.

“Despite demonstrating incredible entrepreneurialism and agility, alongside the support they’ve shown staff, customers and communities, many are still facing a really tough time.

“Small Business Saturday is a fantastic chance to get behind these firms and say a big ‘thank-you’ for how amazing they are.”