This is the first blog of the “blog-a-day for #IndieRetail”, over 31 guest posts that will be publish at least daily (sometimes more) throughout July. When this blog publishes, at 10am on Sunday 1st July, I’ll just be taking to the main stage at the Independent Retailer Month 2012 kick-start conference at Cranmore Park near Solihull. I’ll be officially announcing the start of a whole month of celebration of our Independent Retail businesses and thanking all those who’ve made this possible.
Independent Retailer Month – with thanks to…
It’s important that I also acknowledge those people who’ve made this happen on our first blog of the month – this is such a LONG list I will refer you to our web pages to see more:
- Our sponsors – without their investment or provision of services free of charge we’d never have been able to do what we have done this year – you can see who they are via www.independentretailermonth.co.uk/sponsors
- Our official supporters – they’ve used their networks, influence and communities to spread the word and encourage more retailers to take advantage of Independent Retailer Month – www.independentretailermonth.co.uk/supporters
- Our campaign supporters – a whole range of businesses and organisations who love local and love indies – www.independentretailermonth.co.uk/supporters/campaign
But there is one person who is worthy of a very special mention, and that’s my husband and business partner, Andrew Rayner (and he doesn’t know I’m writing this and won’t find out until tonight as he’s at the kick-start conference with me!) Andrew runs www.e-mphasis.com and he’s dropped everything to implement our website, our fantastic social media strategies and tools and has even stepped in at the last minute to deliver a keynote at the launch event to cover someone who has been taken ill.
What it’s all about – Why are we celebrating Independent Retail with all the doom and gloom about the high streets?
The Independent retailers, shops, cafes, salons and boutiques, are what make each of our towns unique. Without them our towns would be clones, with all the same shop fronts – dull and bland. Independents add vibrancy, diversity and often provide a route to market for smaller brands, makers and designers who might otherwise never get their products in front of shoppers. Often leading on service, offering a more attentive, personal approach, it’s no wonder smaller, independent retailers are often described fondly as “our friendly, local, independent…” you can find HUNDREDS of these listed on our UK Shops Directory and find out who are local to you.
Independent Retailer Month encourages retailers in communities to work together to re-engage their local shopper.
It’s no secret that times are tough; shoppers have drifted away, attracted by free parking, protection from the elements, discounts, and the apparent convenience of out of town shopping centres. Shoppers need reminding about what’s on their doorstep – and that’s what Independent retailer month is all about – encouraging the retailers in each local community to work together to create engaging activities, promotions and events that will engage and attract the local shoppers throughout July. Some examples of these are listed on our Independent Retailer Month Events page – you can fill in the form to request to be added if you have something going on! The purpose is to showcase the best of what they’ve got to offer, reminding local shoppers about what they’re missing out on by not taking the time out to visit their local retailers.
Why care about Independent Retailers – surely the multiples are more important to the economy?
Skillsmart Retail quoted that there are over 169,000 independent retail businesses in the UK, equating to 92% of all retail businesses. Bira stated that on average 60% of all town centre shops are occupied by independent businesses. These retailers form a vital, valuable and treasured part of many communities. They are also an integral part of local economies and contribute greatly to local employment. The Federation of Small Businesses quoted that for every £1 spent with a local business 50-70p makes its way back into the local economy; that’s compared to just 5p of the £1 spend out of town… so if shoppers really care about the community and don’t want to lose their independent retailers then they need to make the effort to visit them a little more often and buy from them when they can.
Retailers MUST also take some responsibility. They should provide relevant, engaging, appropriate products and services for their local customer base!
We’re not seeking charity however, it’s no secret that many consumers are tightening their belts and really thinking twice about spending their hard-earned cash. Retailers have a duty to provide relevant, appropriate and interesting products and services, aimed at their local consumers, and aligned to their needs and wants. When the retailers get it right then naturally when consumers visit they’ll find things they want to buy and prices that they consider to represent good value for money.
Shoppers: Rediscover local retail businesses throughout July!
Retailers: Show shoppers what they’ve been missing out on, get them hooked on a shop-local habit!
Through Independent Retailer Month retailers have the opportunity to prove themselves to consumers, re-engaging their interest and earning their loyalty. Our plea to the shopper is to make an effort to go and explore what your local community retailers have to offer – spend some time in their stores, understand more about their products and their expertise. After all, if you are spending your hard earned cash it’s better to be spent with someone you can get to know and trust than with a business where you’re just another sales stat!