TAUNTON residents have been encouraged to visit and use independent shops in the run-up to Christmas.

Michelle Beck, who runs Taunton Independent Market, said the town “has an abundance of independent businesses” which could create a “special place to go shopping”.

She highlighted their importance for the town in the run-up to Christmas and to mark Small Business Saturday (December 2).

Michelle said: “It’s very important, if we don’t use them we will lose them.

“It is also about creating a special place to go for shopping.

“People always say Taunton is a ghost town, but it’s not. Independent shops are abundant, there’s plenty of choice.

“At the Taunton Independent Market we have around 80 South West businesses, most of them Somerset-based.

“They are creating a lot of jobs, and they keep money in our area.

“Christmas is important for independent businesses, and they rely heavily on it. This year, the lights in Taunton look fantastic and that will contribute to bringing people into the town.

“The Taunton Independent Market started four years ago in March. After Covid, it took a little while to build back up but then we went from strength to strength, and we have from 6,000 to 8,000 people attending.

“They come to the market for specific things and street food is always popular.”

Michelle said all this also applies to the Taunton Independent Quarter and added: “Visit local shops, it’s for the benefit of everyone. We have to support each other.”

She also said the new Taunton Town Council “will be a help for the businesses” and “having people just for Taunton to make sure the town looks good” will help businesses and “bring people in”.

The next Taunton Independent Market will take place on Saturday, December 9 and Sunday, December 10.