Reaching step 3 of the government’s roadmap brings with it hopes of a summer well spent. Visiting attractions, going to events, browsing shops and markets, and dining at our favourite venues – all with friends and family again.

But when you are heading out, take a moment to think about the impact of your trip. Will you choose to support a local business?

With net-zero targets to meet, communities to strengthen and an economy to rejuvenate, it is more important than ever to support local businesses. We need to come together and put Essex first – and enjoy the many delights and benefits of shopping locally. Together, we can inspire a resurgence of the small businesses that make Essex great.

So how can you have an impact? How can you go from a fair-weather local supporter to full-time small business advocate? Well, here are a few ways to take your love of local businesses to the next level.

If you are gearing up an eventful summer, you are well on your way to supporting our hard-hit arts and culture sector. Browse apps and websites to find events happening near you and don’t forget to check the finer details. Look for Essex-based events companies and independently owned venues which stock local food and drink. Research the performers, musicians and comedians too – there is plenty of talent born and bred right here in Essex.

The rest of the accommodation sector has re-opened and, as one the driest counties in the UK with a diverse landscape and bustling towns, a staycation in Essex is a winner every time. When you opt for independently operated accommodation, you will never have the same experience twice. Plus, your trip means that much more to the owners and employees. Browse tourism websites for recommendations and be confident with your local choice by checking out reviews and social media.

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We are sure the whole family is ready to get out and about, so why not giggle your way through an outdoor cinema screening, get soaked on a log flume or fly through the trees at an activity centre? Find hundreds of local attractions and activities on Essex-based tourism websites like Visit Essex.

If browsing for a bargain is more your thing, spend this summer uncovering Essex’s creatives, crafters and producers. Country fairs, farmers markets, local gift stores and car boot sales are great places to discover micro-businesses, handmade gifts and delicious food. Get chatting and you are sure to get insider tips on more local treasures and troves around the county.

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After a fun-filled day, unwind at a local restaurant or pub. There are so many family-owned restaurants, characterful pubs, cosy cafes and hospitality gems across Essex. Local hospitality venues play a major part in keeping Essex’s food and drinks brands alive, and it feels great to know the money you spend will trickle through the community.

Visit Love Local for apps, websites, tips and tricks to help you support Essex businesses this summer.