Two pals have set up an online festive fair to help people bag great gifts and support local businesses.

Kerry Molson and Helen Motture created the Christmas market where customers can browse items being sold by local firms after most sales were cancelled because of the pandemic.

Kerry, a mum of one from The Prinnels, said: “Because of the current situation, there aren’t many Christmas markets running this year, which is such a shame. So we thought we’d set one up online.

“Understandably, a lot of people are worried about venturing into busy areas and so we thought this would be a great way to allow businesses to showcase their products, and allow shoppers to buy some great Christmas gifts from the comfort of their own home, all while supporting their local and independent businesses.”

The pair, who have recently started selling Usborne Books, came up with the idea when looking for a way for them to continue that offer in the run up to Christmas.

Their Facebook group, Virtual Christmas Market for Swindon, allows sellers to post twice a day advertising their products. Shoppers can purchase items by commenting underneath or contacting the seller directly, and browse a photo album of products for each seller.

“We’ve got a really nice variety of things on offer,” added Helen, a mum of two from Shaw.

"We don’t have anyone selling the same things as each other, so there is a big range and it’s all from local businesses in and around Swindon. We’ve been really pleased to see how many people have joined up,” she said.

The market, which has been running since the end of September, has 30 stalls and offering handmade cards, Christmas balloons, craft items, candles, perfumes and jewellery, among many other things.

Helen said “We have people offering bespoke items or things like sports massages. Things that you might want to give someone as a treat.

“I do think if you have someone who is a bit difficult to buy for, then a bespoke item is the way to go,” added Helen.

Kerry added: “It’s crucial to support local businesses at the moment, and I think there is a real appetite for it too among consumers.”

“With all the restrictions it has become difficult to get your products out there,” said Helen.

“For a lot of our sellers, Christmas is a big season and they'd normally go round lots of markets.

"We’re hoping this will help businesses and give shoppers things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to buy.”