'Please come and support us' is plea from Burnley's independent shops as they prepare to re-open their doors

'Please continue to support us.'

That is the appeal from independent traders in Burnley as they enter the final nine days of the second lockdown, which forced them to close their doors during the run up to Christmas, one of the busiest times of the year.

And while they may be relieved that they can welcome customers back through the doors on December 2nd, shop owners in historic Standish Street still have fears about the future.

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Amanda Hanson, who opened her shop Sweet William florist five years ago, said the past few months had been a time of 'mixed emotions.'

Amanda Hanson of Sweet William Florist's has appealed for people to come out an support shops in Burnley

Amanda said: "The fear of not knowing if we would be able to trade again has always been there, especially during this second lockdown.

"But this time round has been slightly different as the suppliers have kept going and the customers have been fantastic, I cannot thank them enough for their continued support through thick and thin."

While businesses have had to close shoppers have been able to use a 'click and collect' system to carry on shopping which has been a lifesaver for so many retailers.

But Amanda, who launched her business, named in memory of her late father, a decade ago in Burnley Market Hall, stressed how vital it was for customers to come back through the doors in person when they are able to adding: "Footfall is vital for small businesses to survive.

Burnley's Standish Street which is home to several independent retailers

"I understand people sat at home ordering on their laptops but that is what is killing little businesses so please come out and support us when you can."

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Fellow trader Julie Humphrey, who opened her shop, Joules Designs, seven years ago said the second lockdown was a financial blow for so many traders.

Julie said: "In the first lockdown we received help from the council but this lockdown has hit us hard at what is the busiest time of the year.

"Customers have been very supportive and offered so many words of encouragement which we value so much."

Julie Humphrey of Joules Designs says that her shop is a 'safe haven' for many customers
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Specialising in a range of hand-made, unique gifts and accessories Julie said her shop was a 'safe haven' for many people, adding: "We are so much more than just a shop. People come here for companionship and a chat to off-load any issues they have.

" I love what I do and want to continue. I also support many other local local people that hand-make items that I sell.

"This brings people in to the shop because they want something that is a little bit different."

Touched by the plight of small businesses and shop owners who had to close down Lucy Whitehall launched a facebook page to support them.

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The response to the Burnley Virtual Christmas Market has been terrific and the group now has over 2,000 members made up of traders and customers.

Lucy said: "I just wanted to help people, including many of my friends, whose businesses have closed.

"I really do love our little town and how we look after each other."

The group is also a platform to support the Burnley Together Christmas Toy Appeal.