As Independent Retailer Month came to an end on 31st July, Clare Rayner, the driving force behind the initiative, reflects on a successful campaign that has not only delivered impressive results for those participating but which has firmly established the month-long campaign as a not-to-be-missed annual event for independent retail.
Retail Champion Clare Rayner, who launched Independent Retailer Month in 2011, said that there had been exceptional support UK wide for the initiative in 2013, with take-up from not only retailers but also across whole towns.
“So many retailers and whole towns took advantage of the opportunity that independent retailer month presents to create promotions, activities and events that really attract and engage local consumers. The feedback has been unanimously positive and one of the case studies demonstrates the real commercial benefit of the campaign.
“However, we can’t rest on our laurels – it’s critical to immediately build on this momentum, which is why we’re turning our attention to the next campaign event – the “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” activities.
“Only through a regular and sustained focus on creating fun and engaging events, which give consumers a reason to keep coming back to their high streets and local stores, will we be able to create a long-term, step-change in consumer behaviour.”
However, the success stories from the month are plentiful. One of these stories comes from Akzo Nobel – brand owners of Dulux – who supported Independent Retailer Month in both 2012 and 2013 by providing promotional support for their network of independent distributors. Jason Hopkins, UK Distributors business director said: “2012 was the first year that Akzo Nobel was involved in Independent Retailer Month. This year we up-weighted our promotional campaign to support Independent Retailer Month and early indications show that this has worked well with strong growth on our 2012 performance and very positive feedback from our sales teams.”
Campaign supporters, such as Action for Market Towns, British Independent Retailers Association and Enterprise Rockers, also acknowledged the success of the 2013 activities.
Chris Wade, chief executive of Action for Market Towns commented: "Independent retailers, offering variety and a quality service, are a big part of what makes our town centres special. It's great that Independent Retailer Month 2013 has once again helped raise the profile of independent retailers across the country and it is well and truly established in the annual calendar."
Tina Boden, co-founder of Enterprise Rockers added: “Enterprise Rockers are proud supporters of Independent Retailer Month. In May I came up with an idea to help promote the importance of independent retail and independent business in local communities and set about planning the Local Indie Explorer Challenge to take place on 9th and 10th July. My aim was to support and promote Independent Retailer Month, and Kath Turner, Chair of the East Coast Branch of Federation of Small Business North Yorkshire, aimed to promote the FSB Keep Trade Local campaign. We each spent 33 hours visiting different parts of Yorkshire and Humber and meeting as many independent businesses as we could.
This was an ideal opportunity for independent retailers to get in involved, and many did, in over 24 different locations across the Yorkshire and Humber region. At a time when bricks and mortar retailers are battling against doom and gloom media stories, campaigns like Independent Retailer Month bring an opportunity to promote the positive impact collaboration between independent retailers and other independent businesses can bring to local communities. Highlighting the independent retailers and the service they bring in July opens doors for them to raise their profile across the rest of the year.”
Michael Weedon, deputy CEO of British Independent Retailers Association, says: “Conventional wisdom says you need several years, loads of hard work and tons of money to build a brand and a campaign like Independent Retailer Month. Conventional wisdom is right about the first two but wrong about the third: activism, engagement and inventiveness now do what cash once did and together they have created a great event, brand and movement.”
Clare concluded: “Independent Retailer Month gets amazing support from our supporting partners, from brands, from town centres and from the retailers themselves. Whilst this unfunded campaign has managed to achieve fantastic support and recognition we have still a long way to go! There are still 1000s of independent retailers that we have not yet reached. It is our aim now to leverage the momentum from Independent Retailer Month and to focus on the “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” activities, which in 2012 saw over 50 town centres, representing over 1000 retailers, running fun “Christmas Shopping Crawls”.
“This year I’d like to see that number exceed 100 towns and over 2000 retailers. Only through ongoing support and awareness building can the campaign continue to gather momentum and turn the perception of the British High Street around to make it great once more.”
Follow the campaign on twitter via @IndieRetailUK and on facebook via www.facebook.com/IndependentRetail