A GROUP of shops at the heart of Hampshire’s most historic city are the latest to throw their weight behind the Daily Echo’s Shop Local campaign.

The independent businesses in The Square are just a stone’s throw from Winchester Cathedral.

Everyone knows that times are tight, and the Daily Echo wants shoppers to boost the local economy by spending money in locally-owned businesses in and around Hampshire.

One such business is G E Marsh Antique Clocks, which has been in the city for more than 60 years.

Clockmaker Simon Kerby said: “We deal with a lot of generations from the same family here as parents recommend us to their children.

“All the staff have been here a long time. I’ve been here for 20 years and I’m still the new boy.

“We stock a huge scale of items, from £8 watch batteries to £400,000 grandfather clocks. You won’t get that in a chain shop.”

Another independent shop owner supporting the campaign is lifestyle retailer The Hambledon, which is owned by Victoria Suffield.

She said: “It’s important to use local stores so we don’t end up with a homogenous high street in every city in the land.

“It’s so that people have stores and businesses to be proud of in their city.”

Margaret Shepherd, a sales assistant at Creative Crafts, which has been open for 20 years, said: “Somewhere like this you get knowledgeable staff who are quite happy to give you advice and help you.

“People come from miles around to shop here.”

Kim Smith, sales assistant at Georgie Porgie’s Children’s Store, said: “It’s the individuality of the shops. A lot of our clothing is French so it’s something different that you won’t find in say Debenhams.”

Alex Edwards, owner of clothing and gift shop Cadogan, said: “I think that there’s a place for supermarkets and chain stores but alongside that we need independent stores.

“It facilitates more of a community spirit and also we have a richer depth of stock in an independent store and a more personalised service.

“Overall it gives the consumer more choice.”

Ben Perry, assistant manager at Cadogan and James delicatessen, said: “Customers are welcome to taste pretty much anything in our shop. Otherwise how would you know what to buy?”