National Minimum Wage Employer Toolkit #NMW

On Thursday, 1 October, the government is introducing increases to the National Minimum Wage rates of pay. It is the minimum pay per hour almost all workers are entitled to by law and depends on their age and whether they are an apprentice.

The new rates of pay are £6.70 for those aged 21 and over, £5.30 for 18-20 year olds and £3.87 for under 18s. For apprentices, the rate is £3.30 in their first year of employment. If apprentices are aged 19+, second year pay should be in-line with the National Minimum Wage rates for their age group (£5.30 if they are aged 19 or 20 or £6.70 if they are 21+).

No matter how large or small your business, it’s your obligation as an employer to ensure that all staff earning National Minimum Wage are paid correctly at the new rates. It can be a criminal offence for employers not to pay workers correctly or to falsify payment records.

Failure to pay the right rate could result in a penalty of up to £20,000 per worker and your firm could be ‘named and shamed’ in public. In addition, employers paying a worker below the minimum wage must pay any arrears immediately.

To assist you in being prepared for the October 1st change, a number of tools are available on the government’s National Minimum Wage website. Alongside this resource, employment organisation, Acas, has set up an online helpline (http://bit.ly/AcasHelpline) and telephone helpline (0300 123 1100) to provide support in correcting any issues.

For more information, please visit http://bit.ly/TheNationalMinimumWage.

Whatever you do to support the campaign, make sure you let us know, so we can amplify your work.

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Press release from BIS: NEW RIGHTS FOR CONSUMERS WHEN BUYING DIGITAL CONTENT

  • Consumer Rights Act 2015 comes into force on 1 October
  • Eight pieces of legislation streamlined into one
  • Making the law simpler for businesses and consumers

Consumers downloading music or buying ebooks are today being given new legal rights. Responding to the surge in the number of consumers buying digital content, the Consumer Rights Act will introduce specific rules entitling shoppers to a repair or replacement when digital products are faulty.

Shoppers are increasingly spending their money on digital content, with more than £2.8 billion spent on downloaded music, video and games in 2014, up 18 per cent from the previous year.

The law will also clarify rules around refunds, repairs or replacements of faulty goods.  This includes, for the first time, the creation of a specific timeframe of 30 days for consumers to reject a faulty item and get a full refund.

Research from 2014 shows that shoppers encountered more than 18 million problems with consumer goods and services in the preceding year, leaving people £4.15 billion out of pocket. The Act will make it easier for consumers to know their rights and to shop with confidence, by streamlining eight pieces of legislation into one.

Business Minister Nick Boles said: “Whether it’s downloading music or buying a fridge freezer, the Consumer Rights Act makes it easier to understand your rights. UK consumers spend £90 billion a month and it is important they are able to shop with confidence. These changes will also simplify the law for businesses so they can spend less time worrying about unclear and unwieldy regulations.”

Key changes include:

  • This will be the first time that consumers have had clear legal rights for digital content. Specifically, the Act gives consumers the right to repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as online films and games, music downloads, and ebooks.
  • A 30-day time period to return faulty goods and get a full refund. The law was previously unclear on how long this period should last.
  • After 30 days, retailers have one opportunity to repair or replace any goods and the consumer can choose whether they want the goods to be repaired or replaced.  If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, the consumer can then claim a refund or a price reduction if they wish to keep the product.
  • For the first time there are clear rules for what should happen if a service is not carried out with reasonable care and skill or as agreed with the consumer. The service provider will have to put the service right in line with what was agreed or, if that is not practical, must give some money back.
  • Consumers being able to challenge terms and conditions which are not fair or are hidden in the small print.

When a problem does occur, it will be easier for disputes to be settled. From 1 October, certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers will be available to help when a dispute cannot be settled between the business and the consumer. The system offers a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes than going through the Courts.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said: “Consumer law was crying out to be brought up to date to cope with the requirements and demands of today’s shoppers. Getting a refund or repair, dealing with issues with faulty digital downloads and understanding contracts should now all be much simpler.

“Businesses must ensure their staff are aware of the changes so they’re not caught out short-changing customers or breaking the law.”

Gillian Guy, Chief executive of Citizens Advice said: “Clear consumer rights are good for shoppers and businesses. The new laws coming in today should make it easier for people to understand and use their rights regardless of what goods or services they buy.

“Businesses have a real opportunity to show they value their customers by upholding their new rights and signing up to an alternative dispute resolution scheme. This means people have an independent body they can raise a complaint with if they haven’t managed to resolve their issue with the trader.”

Free and easy to understand information is available online to help businesses understand the changes, including via the Business Companion website. Businesses can also speak directly to an advisor about the changes via the Business Support Helpline.

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How can independent retailers mitigate the effect of declining high street footfall and spending this Christmas?

It’s the end of September, and although the sun is still shining most switched-on retailers will already be thinking about the most important trading period of the year – Christmas.

In recent years the high street has been hit hard at Christmas time, suffering declining footfall, heavy competition from online and out of town retail parks, not to mention big names launching end-of-season sales BEFORE Boxing Day. Last year saw Black Friday really gain traction with consumers, pulling forward much of the spending that historically was held back until a few days before Xmas, so the sales pattern, and the competition for share of wallet, is changing.

With this in mind, I felt it was essential to consider some of the strategies that smaller, independent retailers can adopt in efforts to mitigate the erosion of high street spending. Here are my recommendations.

Collaboration between independent retailers

Collaborate with other local small retailers and create an occasion – an event – anything that offers customers more than JUST an opportunity to shop. Get in early (ideally ahead of Black Friday…) and make it FUN (it is, after all, the festive season!)

Ideas could include:

  • festive fashion shows with local clothing retailers showcasing their winter ranges, party-wear and Christmassy accessories!
  • food fayres with local foodies (including restaurants and bars too) showcasing their seasonal treats, allowing potential customers to sample their wares, and offering things like Christmas ordering options to ensure people get their favourite tastes on the table in time
  • A Christmas party – all family-friendly retailers could work together to create a fun party atmosphere where entertainers distract and amuse the children whilst parents and grandparents can shop for gifts.
  • And last but not least, getting involved in indiechristmas.co.uk and running a shopping challenge to get more people visiting local, independent retailers!

Making the most of click and collect

Offer click and collect… if you have ecommerce and a store then you have everything you need for click and collect, which has grown tremendously at Christmas as shoppers feel more secure if they can collect merchandise rather than depend on postal or courier delivery services. Of course if you don’t have ecommerce you can still offer some comfort to customers that a trip to your outlet won’t be wasted – even something as simple as a “ring and reserve” will mean stressed-out shoppers feel safe in the knowledge that when they come to your shop they will not leave empty handed!

Ensuring opening hours are aligned to peak periods of footfall

Ensure you are open for any late-night events and on weekends. If your area tends to have a co-ordinated late-night shopping event make sure you are part of it, and, if chain-stores around you open longer hours / Sundays then you really need to be open as well. Much as it can be a struggle to extend hours, if you don’t then those who do will pick up what little footfall and spending there is!

Stand out from the crowd

Make your store stand out! Nothing entices passing shoppers more than fabulous window displays so make your window SHOUT to them to come in! Once through the door ensure that the store is inviting, well stocked with key items, point of sale is clearly displayed, and you have adequate staffing to provide a quick and efficient service.

Make shopping fun again!

There’s no doubt Christmas has become a more challenging time of year for the high street, but there’s no reason why you can’t improve your chances of turning passers-by into happy customers if you focus on giving them a great experience that makes shopping more fun and less of a chore!

Here’s to a successful festive season!

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Independent Retailer Month: Benefits of shopping locally by @AnnectoUK for #indieretail #indiemonth

Last Friday may have been the end of Independent Retailer Month but as sponsors of the Support for Independent Retail Campaign, we at Annecto want to encourage more people to shop locally throughout the year

As we came to the end of Independent Retailer Month, we want to remind more people that shopping locally all year round can help support their local community.

The benefits to the community of shopping locally

Shopping locally holds many benefits to the local community and research by the CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies) conducted on behalf of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) found that for every £1 spent locally, 50-70p of that money recirculates back into the local economy. For every £1 spent out of the local community or online, just 5p trickles back into the local economy. Other research by Sage UK found that small companies generate 75% of their income locally.

Support your local town or village!

Us Brits are a nation proud of the communities that we live in and there is no better way to support our local towns and villages by spending our money in local businesses. From local greengrocers, butchers, hairdressers and many more, our highstreets offer the goods and services we require on our doorstep, slashing our fuel costs and journey times. Local shops often stock locally sourced produce which also cuts down carbon emissions so by shopping locally you are helping to protect the environment. Shop local, save the world – do we really need to convince you more?

Independent retailers contribute so much to the national economy!

Independent retailers and small businesses provide almost two thirds of private sector employment and nearly half of all private sector turnover, they’re not hailed the ‘lifeblood of the economy’ for no reason.

What’s more, local shops add character to high streets and are often one of a kind stocking goods and services that you won’t get anywhere else. We’re all looking for ways to display our personality and differentiate ourselves from others, we can do that by buying unique goodies from local shops.

Make a difference – show your support for your community and shop local all year round!

So not only are you saving the world, supporting your local economy and standing out from the crowd by shopping locally, you are also supporting the business owners that have overcome the hurdles of opening a small business and you are helping to champion independent retailers across the country.annecto

This blog was written by Annecto UK who are long-standing sponsors and supporters of the Support for Independent Retail campaign. To find our more you can visit the Annecto website via www.annectouk.co.uk or tweet them via www.twitter.com/annectouk

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Holidays are coming! Get involved and Celebrate an Independent Christmas #indieretail #indiexmas

It’s three months until Christmas and here at the Support for Independent Retail campaign, we’re getting excited! It’s time to start thinking about how to get those Christmas shoppers into your store, so join our Celebrate an Independent Christmas campaign and take part in the Christmas Shopping Challenge in your local area.

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Cambridge Independent Retailer Month 2014 by @CambridgeBID

This is a guest feature provided by Rachel Rissbrook, Marketing and Commercial Manager, Cambridge BID. Rachel was coordinator of this year’s Independent Retailer Month activities in the city.

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How many independent retailers are there in the UK? #indieretail

There is a vast array of retail businesses across the UK, ranging from the smaller one-store retailers to the mighty multi-store giants. Trying to pinpoint exactly how many of each is a tricky task – the many facets of the retail industry are continually changing, and each town and city frequently sees the coming and going of various businesses.

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PRESS RELEASE: Independent Retailer Month urges retailers to collaborate for success

As Independent Retailer Month enters its third week, retailers are being encouraged to recognise the benefits of collaboration on the high street.

The annual campaign, now in its fourth year, has seen hundreds of small businesses running events and activities to raise awareness of their local high street, with many working together to offer excitement and enticement to their communities.

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Independent Retailer Month in #Bath #BTH #IndieMonth – guest feature by @graceandted

It’s our second year of owning an independent pre-owned designer clothing boutique in the beautiful city of Bath. Whilst we were aware of Independent Retailer Month last year, it seemed to pass us by without much of a hoo-ha. The odd poster went up and a few shops offered a discount but nobody really knew what it was for.

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