THIS year, Sarah Sumner will be keeping clear of Castlepoint, avoiding Amazon and eschewing eBay – in the name of supporting local traders.

Mrs Sumner has taken the decision, spurred on by learning how little in taxes many big websites pay and the frenzy of shopping centres, to stick to Verwood, Fordingbridge and Ringwood for gift buying.

Her stance has won support from people in all three towns, who are urging others to join her and benefit from local customer service, as well as the ease of returning gifts and one-off items from independent traders.

Mrs Sumner said: “Last year I shopped primarily through Amazon, but when I heard they were finding loopholes in the tax system to avoid paying taxes I decided I would not use them this year.

“While I was shopping in Fordingbridge I was so inspired by the selection of shops selling wonderful gifts that I pledged to buy locally to help save the high street. Footfall in our small towns is declining and shops are closing.

“Our local businesses all pay their taxes and I believe it is up to us to help boost our local economy.

“If everyone shops locally then it could create jobs and keep our shops open.”

Bill Davis, ambassador for Verwood Business, said: “Shoppers can get everything they need locally.

“Verwood traders put great effort into providing a great customer experience and our Chamber of Trade has invested in research to find out what residents want. Trust and confidence is at the very heart of it all. Local shopping is good for the environment too. Let’s keep it local.”

Fordingbridge mayor Malcolm Connolly said: “In Fordingbridge we have a great range of independent and unusual shops, which give residents choice, value and high quality customer service that is often sadly lacking in bigger towns. If we all support our local shops and businesses, I believe it will make a real difference.”

And Ringwood mayor Steve Rippon-Swayne said: “Shopping locally is important and I do it all the time. However, it isn’t just the present, we have to think about the future too and entice people into towns like Ringwood.”