ON the day we go into lockdown, we are calling on readers to back independent businesses.

Hundreds of shops, pubs and restaurants will close for the next four weeks, but we can still support the traders who are the heartbeat of our city and county.

The Oxford Mail's sister paper The Oxford Times has teamed up with Oxford City Council, Independent Oxford and Experience Oxfordshire to promote businesses and guide residents on how they can shop local.

Oxford Times editor Pete Gavan said: “With businesses facing a difficult time in the run up to Christmas, we want to do what we can to help.

“We want our readers to support their local independent traders and do as much of their Christmas shopping with those businesses.

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“If we show them our support now, they will be with us for the long term when the pandemic is behind us.

“So please do what you can, shop local and help these firms have a sustainable future.”

Alongside the city council, The Oxford Times is offering free advertising to small businesses and you can find out more by emailing max.pollard@localiq.co.uk.

The pre-Christmas period – known as the ‘golden quarter’ – is crucial for many traders and the city council is re-creating its digital directory of Oxford companies operating online this November.

Mary Clarkson, the council’s cabinet member for city centre, Covered Market and culture, said: “It might seem easier this year to use large, international websites to shop for all your Christmas presents at once, but taking the extra time to shop with local businesses will not only get you more interesting gifts, it will also support local businesses and local jobs.

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“We have tried to make the process of supporting Oxford’s retail, hospitality, leisure and service businesses as easy as possible by creating a directory of businesses in the city that are operating online, especially with deliveries and takeaway, during the lockdown.”

Oxford Mail:

That is available at oxford.gov.uk/openonline, while the council has also written to businesses offering them the chance to be promoted during the campaign.

Anyone wanting to take part can email citycentre@oxford.gov.uk

Meanwhile, Independent Oxford is creating an online map of independent traders in the city centre and co-founder Rosie Jacobs believes it will bring people together.

Oxford Mail:

Rosie Jacobs (left) and Anna Munday, co-founders of Independent Oxford Picture: Philippa James Photography

She said: “We’re really passionate about encouraging people to invest in their local economy and community, and I think more than ever, people see the value there.

“Buying local helps to makes us feel grounded, connected and purposeful, and these are the feelings of comfort and security that all too easily evade us at times like this.

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“We’re really pleased to be working on this campaign with Oxford City Council, Experience Oxfordshire and The Oxford Times, to highlight the brilliant independent businesses in our city, and make it easier for local people to support them.”

The campaign is also being promoted by Experience Oxfordshire.

CEO Hayley Beer-Gamage said: “It is vitally important that we continue to support business at this difficult time.

“This means promoting businesses that are able to trade and operate under the new national restrictions and supporting those that have had to temporarily close.

“We are continuing to plan for when restrictions are lifted and encouraging residents to support their local businesses at this time.

“We have so many great businesses, let’s all do all we can to ensure they survive and we can continue to enjoy them in the future.”