The Watford mayor has discussed the importance of shopping local ahead of his campaign to help businesses in the lead up to Christmas.

Elected mayor Peter Taylor has launched the 'Shop Local, Shop Watford' campaign in partnership with Visit Watford and Watford BID.

There are number of shopping areas in the area including Watford Market, Queens Road and St Albans Road. As part of the new scheme a list of retailers has been published on the Visit Watford's website.

Watford BID chief executive Maria Manion said there are around 700 retail businesses across Watford and this initiative is to promote these retailers in the lead up to Christmas

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Credit: Simon Jacobs

Mr Taylor added: "People have rediscovered Watford this year, you get some people who lived in Watford but worked in London now spending their money in Watford because they can't commute to Oxford Street or other shopping centres.

"But we created this campaign as we're conscious that some people might not be aware small and independent businesses during the festive period.

"For many businesses, Christmas is their busiest time, so it’s really important we support them as much as we can.

"Shopping local means money is kept in the local economy – supporting jobs and local families.

"So this year, when you are thinking about Christmas presents for friends and family, explore some of the wonderful businesses in the town and their unique products. These businesses are the heart of our community and we need them to still be there for us in the future."

Mr Taylor said it is important more than ever to help smaller independent businesses due to the vital role they played by helping the vulnerable and elderly in lockdown.

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He added: "The response from businesses across the town has been incredible and there has been a huge out pour of generosity. I know of many restaurants that have given away free food and supermarkets that have been working with our food banks.

"It has been amazing response and many of us now want to support them. The run up to Christmas is a crucial time for businesses and we need to make sure they can bounce back."

Ms Manion said bigger businesses, such as retail chains in intu, also need to be promoted as they're key to helping smaller stores survive.

As a result smaller businesses will benefit and thrive from customers shopping at intu.

She said: "The big stores have helped our smaller businesses. They wouldn't be in the centre if they didn't have the footfall from the larger shops.

"From the chain stores' point of view, it's about employment. A lot of them have the policy of employing only people from a local town.

"It's about the whole business community. We need big and small shops and without that it wouldn't be Watford."

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Credit: Simon Jacobs

Watford Borough Council has worked with businesses during lockdown to make sure they had access to grant support and all information when restrictions were eased in the summer.

She added: "The main thing was communication, so shops knew what is available.

"When you shut down a business it is not the case of closing the door and walking out for a few months - there are a lot of other responsibilities.

"We wanted to make sure businesses were not alone and the council's environmental services team visited every single business in the town centre before reopening."

Mr Taylor says there are future plans for this initiative but said for now it is important to buy from local stores once they can reopen.

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He added: "Ultimately if everyone bought everything online that could result in a sad situation as the social space in the town centre is really important."

Ms Manion added that there is "confidence" in the town as the shop vacancy levels in the town have decreased over the past five years. She said this year 12 new businesses have opened in the town centre.

She added: “While town centres will always change, they’re the social and economic heart of the community. If you don’t have a thriving town centre than what surrounds it will start to decline. Investment into town centres is about investing into you community.”

For the retail list go to