AS the countdown to Christmas continues, a local retail specialist is appealing to Redditch residents to support independent retailers.

Ros Sidaway, of TheRetailCoach and a Redditch Town Centre Partnership director, works with small, private shop owners to help them increase customers and sales levels and reduce operating costs.

She said: “Independent shops are vital to local communities and towns and yet many struggle against larger stores which are slashing prices to lure in shoppers and clear stock. Shopping locally supports local traders, their suppliers and the people they depend on to run their businesses. Buying locally boosts the local economy, rebuilding confidence in the community, enabling local businesses to prosper and grow.

“I would appeal to residents to spend a proportion of their Christmas budgets with local, independent businesses who serve consumers.

“If consumers are looking for a bit of indulgence at this celebratory time of year, if they are seeking more unusual gifts, unique outfits, delicious treats or special social occasions, they should explore their local independents.

“Buying from an independent typically guarantees consumers a more unique, personal experience. However, with many struggling to survive it’s a case of use them or lose them.”

Redditch Town Centre Partnership recently launched TikTap, a free mobile phone app, which independent traders in the town are signing up to, to give offers and special deals to residents. To get the app, text TikTap to 86025.