A Westcountry MP has urged families to support local shops during Small Business Saturday – Britain's first-ever dedicated day to support the nation's five million small firms.
Anne Marie Morris, Conservative MP for Newton Abbot in Devon, has said using local shops, local traders and eating at local restaurants will show small firms "we are there for you".
The backbencher was speaking during a House of Commons debate she led in which the Government was urged to target its support to the very smallest businesses.
December 7 will mark Britain's debut Small Business Saturday, when consumers are urged to turn their backs on the big chains for a day.
The brainchild of Labour Shadow Business Secretary, Chuka Umunna, but boasting cross-party support, the idea began in America three years ago to help small firms survive competition from bigger rivals. It was a factor in boosting the turnover of small businesses by £3.5 billion.
The Western Morning News has for more than a decade called for readers to back Westcountry businesses through our "Buy Local" campaigns.
Ms Morris, a long-standing champion of small firms, said in the Commons: "Small businesses drive our economy. They are what create growth. In terms of employment, new employment this year has been driven two-thirds from the SME (small and medium enterprise) community, not from the big boys.
"But I believe that what we need is a strategy that supports that across all Government departments – which recognises the importance of small businesses and supports them.
"We need a strategy, we need a culture change and we need national pride, written broadly that small businesses are key, they matter and we as a Government support them.
"The Government has a good record but it tends in its proposals and measures to look at the SME community as a whole.
"I would suggest that given that can take us up to businesses with up to 250 employees and a turnover of £50 million, the Government would be well-advised to look at segmenting that market and prioritising support, some of its funding for some of the very smallest businesses."
Of next Saturday, she said: "The Cabinet Office and Department for Business can lead the charge to celebrate small businesses and to get behind a joined-up strategy across all Departments, including by being clear what we mean by small businesses.
"In particular, let us all get behind small business Saturday on 7 December, to say, 'We in this House support small businesses. We are there for you'."
She said there also needed to be a better definition of small and medium-sized businesses, telling MPs the average person had little idea of what the term SME meant.
The MP added: "I would call on the Cabinet Office to actually come up with a good definition of what a small business is.
"There is a review in Europe, the small business act, to look at how we define our businesses and it seems to me that currently there is no adoption across the UK of the European definitions.
"I'm far from convinced that they are right definitions. The term 'SME' means very little to the average household. "Let's get a definition that is meaningful and relevant to the UK economy."