BUSINESSES across the Isle of Wight are gearing-up for a hoped-for Christmas bonanza on Saturday.
Shoppers will be able to take advantage of free parking in the run-up to the festive season on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
The Isle of Wight Council has agreed not to charge shoppers to park in any of its car parks in an event which has been dubbed Small Business Saturday.
Backed by the Isle of Wight County Press, the aim is to give a shot in the arm for businesses during the festive period.
The event is supported by the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce, Tourism and Industry, the tourist body Visit Isle of Wight and the Federation of Small Businesses, and is based on a scheme that was piloted in the United States.
Businesses are also being encouraged to play their part by offering special deals or vouchers to entice extra people through their doors.
Chairman of Ryde Business Association, Joseph Kohn, said Small Business Saturday coincided with the town’s Dickensian-themed weekend and every business in Ryde had been encouraged to get involved with the free parking scheme, either with promotions or loyalty cards.
He said: "We hope it will help to encourage not just shop keepers but cafe and bar owners and anyone who has a business in the town to pull together."
Businesses across the Island, including ones in Yarmouth, Ventnor, Cowes and Sandown, have been made aware of the scheme.
Sammie Reader, owner of Readers Interiors, Newport, added: "We are supporting Small Business Saturday with a ten per cent discount, complimentary mulled wine and nibbles, and live music from Lewis Berry.
"We believe local shops can offer so much diversity, not just in terms of product but also great service and a nice atmosphere — so we really try to go the extra mile."