Today is the launch of this year’s Independents’ Day campaign, which kick-starts the third annual Independent Retailer Month. The 4th July, Independents’ Day, has been declared a nationwide event for the general public to make a point of shopping with independent retailers and exploring the local shops that they may have otherwise overlooked in their busy lives.
Independents’ Day is organised by the National Skills Academy for Retail, and is a national one-day event that celebrates diversity on the high street, giving a voice to the UK’s independent retailers.
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.
In 2013 the two campaigns have joined forces, so Independents’ Day on 4th July will kick start Independent Retailer Month and a whole month of celebration of independent retail throughout July.
Both campaigns are offering a range of free, downloadable materials and resources. These are made available to all those involved. Retailers are encouraged to download the campaign posters and other supporting materials for Independents’ Day from www.retailindieday.com and for Independent Retailer Month from www.independentretailermonth.co.uk/resources/.
In addition, retailers, groups of retailers, and even whole towns, are urged to create celebratory events on 4th July and regularly throughout the month, to engage consumers and to keep them coming back, helping them rebuild the habit of shopping with the independent businesses where they work, live and visit.
Both campaigns have the support of a wide variety of trade associations including bira (British Independent Retailers Association) and Action for Market Towns.
Jane Rexworthy, head of the National Skills Academy for Retail, which run the Independents’ Day event, says: “Independent retailers make up 92% of all retail businesses in the UK and their contribution to a location’s identity and community is unrivalled. We recognise how important they are to local economies and to create a healthier high street, and we are delighted to give independent retailers a voice to reach out the public.
“Throughout the campaign we aim to raise the importance of independent retailers with consumers, encouraging people to shop locally, throughout the year, and particularly on Thursday 4th July. We also want to raise awareness amongst the independent retailers of the vast amount of support and training that is now available at a substantially reduced price, to assist them in acquiring and improving essential skills which can really make a difference to their bottom line.”
Clare Rayner, founder of the Support for Independent Retail campaign, for which Independent Retailer Month is one of the key annual events, says: “2013 is the third year for Independent Retailer Month and we intend it to be the best yet. I’m delighted to work alongside the NSA for Retail, and it’s great to have this national, consumer-facing event as a kick-start to this year’s Independent Retailer Month.
“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 from bira 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 around 14% to an alarmingly high 17%.
“It’s simple, effective activities, such as these 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. If people really do care about having thriving local businesses then they need to put their money where their mouth is, and actually spend with them! If not then 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 at www.facebook.com/IndependentRetailerMonthUK or by subscribing to the regular news and updates from the campaign via www.independentretailermonth.co.uk.