TRADERS have really felt the festive cheer, thanks to your Malvern Gazette’s Very Malvern Christmas campaign, and have been inspired to carry on the good work.

We banged the drum for the town’s businesses in print, online, on mobile and via social media using the hashtag #VeryMalvern from the start of November through to Christmas Eve.

This support has been welcomed by traders, who now want to see the spirit of the campaign carried forward into 2014 and for people to continue to shop locally.

Sean Austin, who owns stationery store Austin and Co in Belle Vue Terrace said: “The thing now is where it goes from here. Shopping locally is not just for Christmas, it is for life.”

He added: “It was a great initiative – kind of a good marriage of the old and new social media.”

Mr Austin even filmed a Christmas advert to rival that of famous department store John Lewis, with his effort featuring his fouryear- old labrador Nessa – it has been viewed more than 13,000 times on Facebook.

“It has had a knock-on effect,” he said. “People came into the shop on the back of the video and left the with something they have bought. It’s just how to top that next year – we start in January.”

Sarah Grout, who runs Malvern Event Organiser in Church Walk, said: “The general feeling is that the campaign is something that could be carried on beyond Christmas and into the new year for people who have an interest in retail in Malvern.

“I would really like to say ‘thank you’ to the Malvern Gazette for taking the initiative and encouraging more people to participate in it. I think it’s really hard getting a hashtag off the ground.”

Mrs Grout said she hoped the campaign would not “lose momentum” and said the town’s traders could help keep it going in some form throughout 2014.

This view was echoed by Lee Harrison, @MWTtravelexpert, who tweeted: “Many Thanks to #verymalvern for all of the re-tweets, it is a great service and hope #verymalvern continues in The New Year and beyond”.

The impact of the campaign has also been acknowledged in Pershore, with Three Little Pigs, @localgiftshop, tweeting: “I have been hearing great things about #Malvern this festive season.

#LightsSwitchOn #SaturdayMusic #BigThumbsUp”