TENDRING Council officials are encouraging present purchasers to start Christmas shopping despite there being more than two months until the big day.

Earlier this year, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the authority launched its Shop Safe campaign, which was funded by the Government. 

The idea behind the scheme was to pump cash back into the local economy and help businesses across the district, following a turbulent few months of no trade.

It was also designed to reassure the more nervous of people that, despite there still being the threat of Covid-19, shopping could be done safely.

Floor stickers, sanitising stations, and protective screens, for example, were all adopted by shops and businesses throughout Tendring. 

The authority has now looked at ways it can keep shoppers safe during the forthcoming – and traditionally bustling and busy - Christmas period.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:

In a bid to reduce the amount of people rushing to town centres in the days leading up to the festive day, shoppers are being encouraged to start buying gifts now. 

The council has also created a social media group on Facebook, in which businesses and shoppers can converse and seasonal products can start being promoted.

Councillor Mary Newton, cabinet member for business and economic growth, said the council wants to support businesses during the usually hectic period.

“For many businesses Christmas is their busiest time, so we want to help support them and do it in a way to keep people safe,” she said.

“We would like to help people shop early for Christmas, to avoid a crowd within shops. 

“We could all do with some festive cheer so it’s never too early for me to get organised.”

Harwich and Manningtree Standard:  

In a bid to ensure her shop is not overrun, shop owner, Olivia Reilly, from Little Boat Gifts, in Brightlingsea, has introduced specific timeslots.

She said is pleased with the council’s initiative to keep people as safe possible during the busiest time of year.

“We are a very small shop, and we are only allowed two households in the shop at one time, with restricted numbers,” she said.

“We are also a popular choice for people wanting Christmas gift ideas, so, we decided to open the shop after hours and are inviting people to book their individual timeslots to enable them to shop safely, and at their leisure. 

“I support the council promoting Shop Safe at Christmas because it gets people thinking about getting their Christmas shopping early.

“Hopefully, we can avoid the Christmas rush, which could put people at risk.”

To join the Shop Safe at Christmas Facebook group visit facebook.com/groups/ShopSafeTendringChristmas.

To find out more about Shop Safe visit tendringdc.gov.uk/shopsafe.