A CHAMPION for local businesses around the Meon Valley has made a “use it or lose it” plea to shoppers amid concerns about the future for producers and retailers in the area.

If you’re still thinking about making a New Year’s resolution, then supporting more local and independent businesses in 2024 might be a lifesaving one for numerous small firms.

Kayleigh Collett of Westlands Farm Shop would agree as she has seen the impact that financial pressures are having on their stockists.

Mrs Collett believes that independent businesses are in dire need of support “now more than ever” because of the financial pressures they faced in 2023.

One of their suppliers, Meon Valley Milk, recently wound-up production but they probably won’t be alone as many businesses, suppliers and farms are still battling against increased cost pressures.

“Many shopfronts and independent businesses will sadly vanish in 2024 if consumers fail to make more conscious and better choices when shopping,” said Kayleigh, who has been a key part of Westlands Farm Shop for more than a decade.

“The message we have been pushing to local residents is essentially use it or lose it.

“We have sadly seen many suppliers and businesses close over recent months and years because they couldn’t fight back against the uphill battle any longer.

“Supporting independent businesses is hugely important to help local economies thrive because a large proportion of the money generated from sales is reinvested into sourcing suppliers, products from other independent businesses and paying people’s wages.”

Kayleigh added: “The pandemic hit local businesses really hard and many are still recovering. But with the support of residents, we can help to repair local supply chains and boost economies within the Meon Valley.

“Around 50 per cent of our revenue is reinvested into local supply chains every year. It is really important that people consider buying directly from local producers to support local supply chains, rather than supermarkets.”