Melrose Christmas Shopping Trail – #IndieXmas

From the time I first stumbled across Independent Retailer Month in 2011 I have appreciated receiving the benefits of Clare’s insights and experience of the retail world so when she launched the idea of Christmas Shopping Crawls I was eager to participate…. but there were a couple of question marks…

The Melrose Christmas Shopping Trail was born…

My question marks were:

  1. I wasn’t keen on the word ‘crawls’
  2. I wasn’t sure how receptive my retail colleagues might be or whether I could co-ordinate such an event.

Clare quickly dispensed with the first problem by saying that the crawl template would be fully editable – thus, the Melrose ‘Trail’ was born. The only way to resolve the second was to try!

Melrose: A small, picturesque town in the Scottish Borders

Yours truly (centre) with a few Trail colleagues in Market Square. (Photo credit, Lloyd Smith, Aikman Smith Creative Photography)

We are very fortunate in Melrose, a small, picturesque town in the Scottish Borders consisting almost exclusively of independent businesses. Nevertheless, that doesn’t insulate us from the realities of the current economic retail environment and it is a little ironic that our traders’ association was dissolved almost two years ago, while up and down the country new ones have been established. It may be natural for individual businesses to be absorbed with their own situation but I firmly believe that we can achieve more by acting together.

Engaging local support for the Christmas Shopping Trail

I hand delivered a letter to my retail colleagues but the initial response was slow with only half a dozen. I had suggested a prize fund contribution of £20 plus £5 towards administration; a modest but achievable target when every outgoing is scrutinised. But we did need at least ten participants.

Then, coincidentally, I received a visit from Lynn Stewart, the editor of a local, free, bi-monthly magazine, Toun Cryer, whom I regaled with the shopping trail idea. She immediately saw the potential for both parties of doing a feature on the trail supported by advertising from participants and she generously offered a contribution of £200 to the Prize Draw fund. So, while I emailed colleagues with details of her proposal, Lynn, fired with enthusiasm, undertook to visit them and convert more to the cause. Her efforts reaped rewards for us both with seventeen participating in the trail and most placing advertising. Lynn also asked her graphic designer, Vote Pedro, to assist with the map template which enabled me to tick off one more task! Printing is another matter and we may have to rely on producing the trail forms between ourselves.

Spreading the word to local shoppers about the Christmas Shopping Trail

I’ve urged everyone to make use of their customer databases, website, newsletters, Facebook and Twitter accounts to get the word out as much as possible. I’m also hoping the local newspaper(s) will pick up the story (courtesy of Clare’s PR template!) but there’s a definite reluctance if the story isn’t accompanied by advertising! [interjection by Clare: Sad fact 😦 – see my blog on this… ]

Our Objective?  Encourage the as many Borders’ residents as possible to use Melrose this Christmas for their buying and entertainment

Our objective is simple; to encourage the highest possible number of Borders’ residents to use Melrose this Christmas for their buying and entertainment and, hopefully, to acquaint people with businesses which they may not have used before or even knew existed. My own is only thirty yards from the Market Square but even after five and a half years local people are still discovering it. We also plan to have a late shopping evening on 6 Dec. when, hopefully, we will be able to create a little razzmatazz around the Christmas tree with music in the Square and shops offering tasty treats.

The Melrose Christmas Shopping Trail promises to be fun, let’s also hope it’s successful. Merry Christmas!

This blog was supplied by Derrick Armitage, local activation partner for Melrose and owner of Present Perfect, 1 Scott’s Place, Melrose TD6 9QZ. Visit the Present Perfect website via or see their facebook page at


About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
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