Throughout Independent Retailer Month, independent retailers and entire towns UK-wide will participate in a month-long celebration of independent retail, with the aim of raising awareness for thousands of local businesses, to increase footfall to town and village centres, and to boost sales.

Retailers, groups of retailers, and whole towns are urged to create promotions, activities and events that capture the imagination of the local community, getting people to think about shopping locally – not just for one day, but throughout July and all year round. By sustaining a variety of activities for a whole month, the campaign aims to begin to change the habits and mindsets of consumers. If they spend a month enjoying regular visits to their local independent retailers, by the end of July they might not want to stop …

All those taking part have access to a range of free, downloadable materials and resources including window posters, window stickers, thank-you cards, and a guide that provides ideas and inspiration for their activities.

These can all be found here. In addition, those wishing to take part can have their events listed and promoted by the campaign team here.

Independent Retailer Month is organised by the Support for Independent Retail campaign, founded by Clare Rayner, The Retail Champion, with the purpose of helping retailers and consumer-facing businesses to get, and stay, open for business by re-connecting local people with local traders for the benefit of the whole community.

Clare says: “2013 is the third year for Independent Retailer Month, and we intend it to be the best yet. Whilst we’re focusing on celebrating our smaller retailers and consumer-facing businesses, it is important to remind ourselves that many smaller businesses are still in a precarious position.

“LDC (local data company) found that in the second half of 2012, and for the first time in over two years, more independent shops closed than opened. Research produced by bira (the British Independent Retailers Association) showed that some 16% of all independent retailers fear they will not survive 2013 if things don’t improve. The loss of more shops from our high streets and villages is a very real risk. If something isn’t done to help re-connect local consumers with local businesses, it is forecast that the UK high street vacancy rate could climb from c. 14% to an alarmingly high 17%.

"It’s simple, effective activities, such as the campaign events, that can really help to start the process of changing consumer habits, reminding people that they stand to lose all the fantastic shops in their area if they never visit them and never spend with them. It’s imperative that our independent retailers get the support of their local community to survive in challenging trading conditions.

“This year I am encouraging people to make concerted effort to make an Indie Retail Pledge to divert up to 20% of what they currently spend out of town, in chains, or with online giants, to their local, independent retailers. If people really do care about having thriving local businesses then they need to ensure that they keep the pledge, put their money where their mouth is, and actually spend with them! If not, they will only have themselves to blame if their communities revert to clone towns, or worse, ghost towns.”

Thousands of independent retailers across the UK are expected to participate in this year’s activities. Retailers interested in taking part can stay up to date with all the activities by following @IndieRetailUK on Twitter, by visiting the Facebook page or by subscribing to the regular news and updates from the campaign.