INDEPENDENT shopkeepers in Stroud have joined forces to fight back against national chains with the launch of a 'virtual high street'.
Stroud is the first town in Gloucestershire to join MyHigh.St - a website which allows independent retailers to sell their wares online.
The new website was launched in Somerset in August and co-founder Loaye Agabani believes it could be a lifesaver for small businesses.
Mr Agabani said: "The biggest shopping hour used to be noon but with the surge in online shopping it is now 8pm, when local shops are closed.
"MyHigh.St gives Stroud shoppers the opportunity to shop locally online and support their communities any time of the day or night."
Customers win points by shopping online and win double points for collecting from the store - encouraging footfall in the High Street.
Several traders have already signed up to the website including Ron Cree of R & R Books, Corrine Price of Butterfly Ball and artist Kirsty Tallon of Broody Designs.
Kirsty said: "MyHigh.St is helping me show my artwork to a much wider audience, with the added benefit of delivering a service that brings all the independent shops in Stroud together under one umbrella.
"This will encourage more people to visit Stroud, which should help other traders in our town."
Corrine, who sells gifts from a stall at the Shambles Market, added: "In this day and age businesses have to have a website. Shoppers will be able to collect from me at my stall, which will help bring people to the town and to the market.
"Hopefully this project will regenerate the town and increase footfall by showing shoppers what Stroud has to offer."
Retailers pay nothing up front and no ongoing fees, just a commission payment from each sale they make goes to the website.
As part of the deal retailers receive a free package of online sales tools, business and marketing services.
The site can be found at http://myhigh.st