David Cameron today added his name to the list of supporters of the Leicester Mercury's I Love Local Shops campaign.
The six-week campaign aims to celebrate the best independent shops in the county.
The Prime Minister said he has been impressed with the reaction to the campaign, which has seen hundreds of people get in touch with the Mercury to tell us why their local shops are the best.
Pledging his support, he said: "It's important independent traders remain on our high streets to make them vibrant places people want to visit.
"As the Leicester Mercury's I Love Local Shops campaign reaches its halfway point, it's fantastic to see how many readers have been sending in stories about why they love their independent shops and how many shopkeepers are displaying the campaign posters.
"For people across the UK, their high street isn't just where they go to shop and carry out everyday tasks, it's where they see neighbours and friends and is an important part of the community.
"Independent shops on high streets in towns and cities all over the UK are a key part of our heritage and the jobs they provide are important to the economy.
"That's why we've worked with Mary Portas to see what Government can do to support them.
"I am delighted to support this campaign and hope it gives a real boost to shops in Leicester."
Ms Portas and deputy PM Nick Clegg pledged their support to the campaign at its launch three weeks ago.
Hundreds of people have e-mailed or tweeted us to tell us their favourite shops and dozens of traders have got in touch to be included on our interactive online map showing independent shops.
Leicester city centre manager Sarah Harrison said: "Our independent shops provide such a different shopping experience.
"Our arcades, for instance. When you step in to them they feel like a different world.
"We have a very good retail mix. If we do not support independent shops and lose them, we would lose an important retail dimension."
Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough, said she supported the campaign.
"Overall, I love shopping in Churchgate, in Loughborough, as it has a range of independent shops – including Chocolate Alchemy, for delicious coffees," she said.
"My other favourite is Paperweight, in Devonshire Square. They always have lovely cards and great presents."
Andrew Robathan, MP for South Leicestershire, said his favourite shop was Chapman's butchers, in Lutterworth High Street.
"It's a truly local shop that sources most of its meat from local farmers," he said.
"Excellent meat and usually better value than supermarkets."
To support our campaign, download and print off your own I Love Local Shops poster to display in your shop or home window from: Retailers: Download and print a Support Local Shops poster click here (pdf) Readers & shoppers: Download and print your I Love Local Shops poster click here (pdf)
NAME YOUR FAVOURITES Tell us about the best independent shops in the city and county. E-mail reporter Laura Elvin at the address below with the name of the shop, its location, and why you think it is the best independent shop. Also include your name and your phone number. Or you can fill in the details on the form below or tweet her with the name of your favourite shop and why you like it to @egoelvin Do you own an independent shop in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland? We are compiling a list of independent shops for our website. To be included, email the name and address of your shop, and a short description of what you sell, to: lauraelvin@leicester mercury.co.uk
WHAT YOU'VE SAID SO FAR ON TWITTER We asked people on Twitter for their favourite independent shop, and what made it so special: @Leicester Running Shop and Ringrose butchers. Put the calories on in one and take them off via the other. @mikemcsharry @Amabis in High Street. I would always go there first for gifts, beautiful original stuff. @grannylouisa @Black and Blossom, Ashby de la Zouch. It's the best florist in Leicestershire. @grinchlington @Rockaboom because it's the only independent record shop in Leicester (if it's not I'd like to know where others are).@CarlDunn82 @Wellgosh! Been buying clothes and trainers from there since they were in Silver Arcade.@iainmoo @The offie in Clarendon Park Road (specialist bottled beer store). Excellent range and friendly staff! @AlexM11 @Crumblin' Cookie in High Street, Leicester. Great food, superb staff, fantastic venue. @Ian040476 @Tinfish Shoes, Royal Arcade and Francis Street. True Leicester born and bred. Great shoes and service. @Slam71 @Kibworth Books. Bucks national trends. V friendly staff, loves books, centre of community. @leicesterlibrar @The Business, 360 Welford Road. Cool men's fashion store with products sourced from all over the world and straight off the runway. @thisismaz_ @Salvador Deli in Queens Road: their food is awesome! @jimbobsqrpntz FIND RECOMMENDED LOCAL SHOPS IN LEICESTERSHIRE AND RUTLAND BY CLICKING ON THE PURPLE PINS