SHOPPERS descended on Basingstoke town centre for Small Business Saturday as families scouted for deals for Christmas.

Customers made the most of the relaxed Covid-19 restrictions under the new tiering system which has seen the county of Hampshire move from lockdown to Tier 2.

Visitors were buoyed by the free parking on offer across council car parks with the Gazette's photographer snapping a full car park just after midday.

It comes after a week of high street woes with dozens of Basingstoke jobs put at risk following the news of Debenhams and Topshop's likely closure.

Cllr Ken Rhatigan, leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, urged the public to go out and support the high street, saying: "2020 has been a particularly difficult year for our borough's businesses and we are committed to supporting them. Now more than ever, it is so important to support the businesses we all love."

Now in its eighth year in the UK, Small Business Saturday saw a record 17.6 million people support small independents in 2018, spending an estimated £800 million.

Basingstoke residents can shop from local, independent traders online through the council's new website: