INDEPENDENT businesses are being given the opportunity to showcase their specialist and handmade products during a month-long virtual shopping event hosted by North-East wish-list website Swishforit.

More than 70 independent brands – many small, unique or family-owned – will feature in the online showcase event, heralding a “new era of shopping” following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Online shopping platform Swishforit, which has its head office in Durham and operates a universal wish-list website and app, has organised the July Swish Showcase Event to support businesses that have continued to serve customers throughout the Coronavirus lockdown.

Swish founder Trina Scott-Priestley, said: “As lockdown progressed these small independents became the saviour to many, continuing to deliver gifts and products when the bigger firms had closed their doors.

“Purchasing habits are changing dramatically, consumers have started to think more about the products they are buying and where they come from, and we have entered a new era of shopping.

“Swish already collaborates with so many independents and this event allows them to showcase their products and strengthen their brands, while connecting with customers who value them. It’s a model we intend to continue to use going forward to bring shoppers and small businesses together.”

The showcase event will launch on Friday July 3, and run throughout July, featuring a host of brands across a range of sectors, including Kiss the Moon and Love Style Magpie, both based in Richmond, Samantha Lois Illustrations, of Newcastle and handmade jewellery specialist Ginny D, of Northallerton.

 It aims to create a virtual high street where registered Swish users can discover new names, watch interviews with business owners and learn more about the products they sell.  They will also benefit from special offers and discounts this opening weekend (3-5th July).

“We want to move away from one dimensional online shopping and towards a shopping experience where people can not only see the products on their screens but practically feel, taste and smell them as well, all from the safety and comfort of their homes,” said Trina, from Richmond, North Yorkshire.

“Swish not only allows users to discover these new products, but also save them, share them and come back to them time and again, therefore making shopping small sustainable.”

Darlington-based Burtree Puddings, which sells a range of homemade puddings and treats, will be among those showcased. Owner Lea Darling said: “Changing consumer habits have driven our internet sales up and we are always looking at new ways to reach online shoppers.

“Not only does being part of this virtual shopping experience enable us to engage with new customers, but the Swish platform itself allows potential customers to learn about our business, save our products and easily come back to us whenever they want.”

Swishforit is still in its infancy, having launched in December to give online users a place in which to create, organise and share shopping lists. With a multitude of functions, it allows consumers to ‘shop-savvy’ by browsing for goods and then saving them in one place to return to at any time and either purchase or share with other users.

To sign up to the event visit swishforit.com online or download the app.