WE are the competition that is keeping prices down for everyone.

That was the rallying cry from traders in Hedge End who are urging shoppers to support their local stores at the heart of their community.

Over the years residents have seen the small shopping village grow into a social hub of activity, with local shops offering a personal service to their customers and organised events to celebrate community life.

But the warning from traders is that this treasured one-to-one service and competition on prices to the larger chains will be lost if people do not shop local.

Janice Barfoot has run her Cake and Sugarcraft Centre in the village for ten years and opened a coffee shop next door only three weeks ago.

She is backing the Daily Echo’s Buy & Shop Local campaign and hopes that shoppers will heed the warnings.

“If people do not use us then they will lose us, it’s as simple as that. “ And Sonia Fleet, who opened The Flower Garden more than two years ago, added: “Here we have more time to give our customers the advice they need.We see families go through every event in their lives, from births, marriages and deaths, so when they come in to see us, they appreciate seeing a friendly face that they can trust.”