Shoppers urged to buy online from local Scots stores as consumer sentiment plummets

Shoppers are being encouraged to buy locally online, with many small retailers turning to the internet for the first time this Christmas - as National Consumer Week gets underway.

Many local stores are offering online shopping options for the first time this year.
Many local stores are offering online shopping options for the first time this year.

Record numbers of people are expected to shop on the internet in the run-up to Christmas, with pre-Black Friday sales kick-starting the Christmas shopping period next week.

Shoppers have been urged to buy early this year – whether online or in person – due to social distancing requirements in stores and warehouses putting extra pressure on retailers.

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The Scotsman’s #SupportLocal campaign hopes to boost business for local companies in the run up to the festive season.

The push comes as a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) warned that consumer sentiment fell this month in the sharpest decline since the first lockdown began in March.

Consumer sentiment fell from -1 in September to -10, despite a summer recovery to pre-pandemic levels.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC, said: “The latest restrictions across the UK have shown how fragile consumer sentiment is despite what was a promising bounceback in the summer. Lockdowns and restrictions clearly impact the public mood, especially amongst young adults, who have been the most impacted financially and are most uncertain of what is to come.”

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland - which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot - said many local retailers were offering online shopping options for the first time.

He said: “Online shopping has brought huge benefits for people and can save time and money. Retailers are hoping for a bumper winter and people can choose to shop with their local stores if they sell goods online.”

Mr Bartlett warned inexperienced internet shoppers could fall victim to scams.

He said: “This week we’re reminding Scots that it’s important to know your rights so that you can shop online safely.

“Unfortunately, there can be delays in deliveries or unfair charges, issues contacting traders to rectify issues when they arise, and additional problems with damaged or faulty goods.

“Consumer legislation is there to protect us when things do not go to plan, and our team is on hand to help Scots with free, practical and impartial advice.”

Councillor Kelly Parry, chair of Trading Standards Scotland’s governance board, said: “This National Consumer Week it is more important than ever that Scottish consumers are aware of their rights when shopping online and that they know what to do if things go wrong.

“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more consumers have been shopping online and this trend looks set to continue over the Christmas period.

“For many people, budgets will be particularly tight this year and it can be tempting to click on a social media advert or unfamiliar website offering deals on big brands or in-demand items.

“Unfortunately, more people have also fallen victim to online scammers who set up fake websites or stores on online marketplaces in an attempt to steal their personal and financial details."

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