Traders in a market town are today backing a new Buy Local scheme – amid growing fears their high street livelihoods are under threat.
The new scheme to highlight the wealth of produce and goods available on Garstang’s high street has been launched as traders spoke out about the effect they believed the new Booths’ loyalty card scheme is having on small local businesses.
Gwen Dunn, of the Garstang Deli/Cafe on Market Place, revealed she had sent a letter to Booths boss Edwin Booth, appealing to him to rethink the supermarket chain’s loyalty card offers.
Meanwhile, local newsagent Richard Whyman said he was now refusing to step inside the Booths store.
The row centres on the new Booths’ loyalty card, which offers incentives to customers, including a free hot drink, and money off, when customers spend £5 or more and a free selected newspaper.
Gwen’s husband, Arthur, has prepared a poster entitled ‘Shop Local, Shop High Street’ asking “Why shop out of town or at the supermarkets?”
Gwen told Mr Booth that she shopped daily in his store, spending in excess of £10,000 a year. She claimed that loyalty card schemes may be appropriate for an out of town stores, but added: “As your Garstang store is virtually in the town centre it is having an immediate and devastating effect on our High Street.
“Our morning coffee business, and that of the other cafes, has, of course, suffered and you have particularly.”
Mr Whyman, who runs Market Place News with his wife, said four staff had lost their jobs through a decline in business.
He believes Booths’ newspaper offer has had a significant impact on his trade.
But Booths chief operating officer Chris Dee today defended the loyalty card.
He said: “The Booths card is to reward regular and loyal customers and the benefits are in line with other supermarkets. The incentives are made to compete favourably with our supermarket competitors.
“Customers need to spend £5 to qualify for money off newspapers, and we are certain that shoppers are coming to Booths for a wide range of groceries while enjoying some additional benefits.
“Booths is an independent retailer, with close links to small producers and growers.
“We work to support local communities, charities and it’s our aim to support and promote shopping in the local area.”