On Saturday 23rd March 2013, 56 towns UK-wide launched the “Enjoy an Independent Easter” campaign to encourage more shoppers, especially families, to come to town and village centres and participate in “Indie Easter Egg Hunts”. Undeterred by the arctic conditions, 100s of people braved the snow and freezing temperatures to show their support for their local independent retailers.
The Enjoy an Independent Easter has achieved more for high streets than most of the government’s “package of support”!
Clare Rayner, who created the campaign, said “There has been a lot of debate lately about what “Portas Pilots” and towns given the “High Street Innovation” fund have actually achieved so far.
Almost a year ago over £13 million was allocated by the government to transform our towns and high streets, and to date we can see little for it. I’m over the moon that a campaign that has had NO FUNDING, and didn’t even exist in November, has engaged 56 towns with over 1100 retailers involved. The feedback from the local partners confirms that this campaign has already had a positive impact on independent businesses, increasing community engagement, footfall and sales. One retailer in Oadby, Leicestershire, reported a new sale of £1000+ that would never have happened if it hadn’t have been for the Easter egg hunt. If the campaign can achieve so much with no funding and very little time, replying only on good will, passion and enthusiasm, just imagine what could have been achieved with just a fraction of the cash DCLG handed out to the Portas Pilots and the 100 towns who received high street innovation funds!”
Enjoy an Independent Easter is having a positive impact on local, independent traders
Following findings from over 100 FOI requests, made by a Rochdale-based independent retail owner, Paul Turner-Mitchell, it has been discovered that only a tiny amount of the government’s multi-million pound “package of support” for the high street has been spent. Paul commented that whilst “Rome is burning” local councils sit on committees debating what to do with the cash. It’s no secret that many high streets are in need of urgent action to stop further decline. This money should be spent swiftly, and wisely, to have the positive impact that Mary Portas envisaged when she backed the government’s plans to breathe new life into UK high streets, making them “the beating heart of the community”. Ironically in the period since the Portas review, contrary to her recommendations, the same government offering this “multi-million pound package of support” have pillaged an astronomic £550 million from the high street they claim to be trying to save due to the 2012 & 2013 business rates rises.
It is clear that independent traders aren’t going to get the help they need from any of the government initiatives, their support has been woefully inadequate, but thankfully initiatives like the “Enjoy an Independent Easter” are having a positive impact where the DCLG have failed.
What the local activation partners had to say…
To find out more about the Easter egg hunts, and a full list of the 56 towns involved, see www.indieeaster.co.uk/easter-egg-hunts. Below are a series of quotes from the local activation partners who have co-ordinated the delivery of some of the 56 Indie Easter Egg Hunts. The key messages are:
- Increased footfall
- New customers
- Increased sales
- Engaging the retail community to work together
- Educating customers about the value of shopping local.
All of their contact details can be found in the table beyond and all are happy to accept contact from press / media for further comment.
– David Fletcher, Oadby Town Centre Association, Oadby, Leicestershire: “Retailers in Oadby have been delighted with the response to their Easter Egg Trail, with dozens of eggs being given away in the first few days. One mum laughingly commented that it was the most expensive egg her daughter would ever have – because whilst collecting a sticker in Oadby Carpets, she saw a design that she loved so much that she promptly spent over £1000 on a new carpet!! Such is the power of this promotion.”
– Trudi Barnard, Business Development Officer, Newcastle-under-Lyme: “We had an amazing response from retailers wanting to be part of the event; we had to operate a first come first served policy in the end. The great thing is that many of our fabulous independents are in secondary retail areas so the Egg Hunt is taking people off the main high street to find some of our hidden gems in the quieter areas of town. This is good news for everyone, even those not involved this time around.”
– Melvin Caton, Town Centre Co-ordinator, Hertford: “We had 6 winning entries on the first day. Hertford retailers are enthusiastic about the number of new faces that are coming into their stores. The Hunt is raising the awareness amongst our residents of the range and quality of independent retailers in the town centre in a family friendly way. We are expecting many more winners during the school holidays as local primary schools have put the Hunt map into pupil’s school bags.”
– Gabrielle Potiuk, Activation partner and manager of Cuthberts Toys, St Albans, Hertfordshire: “The Egg Hunt is a great way of getting the community involved, the posters are attracting a lot of attention and local retailers have been very keen to take part. We have already had quite a few entrants and hope to see many more locals visiting over the next few days.”
– Kim Barratt, Love Letchworth, Letchworth, Hertfordshire: “Last Saturday’s weather was more suited to an arctic hare than an Easter bunny but we still had intrepid Indie Easter Egg hunters taking the trail. Despite the freezing conditions we saw our local community coming out, backing this activity, and exploring Letchworth’s hidden gems. We’ve even had a local kids’ holiday club confirm they’ll do the trail with their youngsters as one of their holiday activities!”
– Rebecca Leek, Director of arts and enterprise charity Rhapsode, Supporting Letchworth: The effects have been more wide-reaching than we imagined. It is definitely bringing more people through our door but it is also starting conversations about the town centre. The Easter Hunt has drawn more people into conversations about the local economy, customer service, local offer, consumer experience… that can only be a good thing.”
– Art Ward, Community Engagement Officer for the Giant’s Causeway, National Trust, Northern Ireland: “We’re proud to launch this campaign which we wholeheartedly believe will encourage locals and tourists alike into our superb local businesses. We’d like to thank the 36 local traders for agreeing to take part in the Indie Easter Egg Hunt.”
– Melanie Burgoyne, Rural Towns Coordinator, Chichester District Council for Midhurst: ‘’Retailers in Midhurst are extremely pleased with the response to the Egg hunt. Collecting the stickers has really captured the imagination of the children and with families coming in to shops it has created a lovely atmosphere. We have already had shops reporting that they have met new customers and had the opportunity to show them the range of goods they sell which otherwise, the customer would not have known. By day 3 we had already had 10 winners!”
– Holly Dutton and Beth Foreman, Exclusive Roots the activation partner for Oxford: “We’ve not only had excited children completing the trail but also enthusiastic adults discovering and loving what the local area has to offer. It has really inspired us to join forces and work together on future projects, starting with the launch of an Oxford Independent Retailer’s Group!”
– Angela Makey, Activation partner for Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire: “In spite of the snow there were lots of people taking part and we’d already had two winners by lunchtime on Saturday! Retailers were delighted to be handing out the Easter egg stickers. Customers were amazed to learn how much more of their money goes back into the town and local community when they shop locally.”
– Sue Black, Activation partner for Mold, Wales: “We have has a terrific response in Mold considering that we are under mountains of snow. Even in these conditions we have had the local children taking part and we are finding more new customers each day. It’s all positive, which is encouraging people back onto the High Street and breathing new life into Mold.”
– Helen Gourlay, Activation partner and owner of Toy Hub, the local toys shop for Dunblane, Stirling: “ We’ve had lots of our customers coming in and asking for the maps who are planning to do the hunt over the kids Easter holidays. Despite the cold weather, it’s been lovely to see the smile on kids’ faces as they are handed a hunt map with genuine excitement to be taking part. Businesses have really got behind it and the engagement of local church and knitting groups to provide little chick cosies for our eggs has meant that our eggs have a great personal touch which families love. The local press have also been helpful by featuring the campaign in the local free newspaper and local free magazine; this adds invaluable support to the campaign.”
– Michelle Fitzgibbons, Activation partner for Romford & Havering: “I cannot explain how much support I have received from the local businesses and residents of Havering! The local schools were also involved, happy to help and distribute the maps in the kids’ book bags for us ready for the Easter break. The support has been overwhelming. Hopefully this will be the largest “Eggciting” Easter Egg Hunt Romford has ever seen!”
– Deborah Stewart, Local activation partner for Corringham Essex: “We are amazed at how excited everyone is about this, the response has been excellent. The shop keepers think it’s a great way to engage with customers and the mums we have talked to think it’s a brilliant idea. This is the first time our town has ever held an Easter Egg Hunt, we are sure it won’t be the last!”
– Jessica Learmond-Criqui, activation partner for Hampstead: “In the first weekend of the hunt one shop saw 50 hunters looking for Easter egg stickers. 32 chocolate lollipops have now been given out to successful hunters who visited 5 shops and who found our Hampstead Egg – a 3 foot high egg made by Hampstead School of Art on one of our busy pedestrian streets. The excitement and magic generated by the Hampstead Egg Hunt for young and old alike has been a particular source of delight. Retailers are seeing new faces, some of whom have bought from them, and footfall has increased as a result of the hunt. We are delighted by the engagement of the community in the hunt with a view to having fun, but also with the more serious aim of helping our local independent traders.”
– Sue Taylor, Local Activation Partner, Cowick Street, Exeter, Devon: “We are thrilled with the response from customers to the Easter Egg Hunt. It has really caught the imagination of the local community. Local traders have donated very generously to the prize draw we have added, which is attracting the Mums and Dads. The children are really enjoying being able to choose their coloured egg stickers! We have already given out a number of real chocolate eggs for completed maps, and we are expecting the enthusiasm to continue over the Easter break.”
– Zoë Court, Town Development Officer, Warwick District Council for Kenilworth, Warwickshire: “I have 12 local businesses taking part in Kenilworth, and have already received an email from one of them asking for more maps to be dropped in as they have almost run out. This is such a good idea, and for almost no cost we can encourage additional footfall to the town centre.”
– Tracey Khalil, activation partner, Cromer, Norfolk: “I was amazed that so many brave souls headed into the town on Saturday 23rd March, in bitterly cold conditions. Our first winner was given their eggs and certificate that afternoon having come especially to take part from the town of Aylsham, some 10 miles away. By Tuesday we’d already had 15 winners! It looks like its going to be a real treat for children and parents alike during the holidays. Those traders taking part report that happy hunters have been very complimentary of the Indie Easter Egg Trail.”
– Irena Lane, Owner of Lagom and Activation partner for London Southbank – Gabriel’s Wharf and Oxo Tower: “The Easter Egg Hunt started with a fine dusting of snow, but this did not put off visitors! Despite the cold weather conditions retailers confirmed that visitors participating in the Easter Egg Hunt lingered in their shops and several made a purchase! Children were delighted with the idea of receiving colourful stickers and chocolate eggs. The success of this activity is proof that communities do love their Independents and are more than happy to support them and engage with them.”
– David Jones, Owner of Bier Huis and activation partner for Ossett, Wakefield: “It took some effort to arrange as we are all sole traders, but we know that by joining forces to work on this event together it will lead to a fun Easter. Plenty of flyers and stickers are being handed out and everyone is enthused and optimistic”
– Carole Clayton, Local activation partner for the Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire: “The Easter Egg Hunt is proving popular in Tenbury Wells. As the Tourist Information Centre is involved, retailers are meeting new people that they would not normally meet. It has already been successful. Retailers are making the most of the opportunity to showcase what they can offer. Despite the weather we have had a good turnout and certainly looking forward to the seeing more children with smiling, happy faces”
– Sue Day, Local activation partner for Bramhall, Stockport: “We’ve had a great start to our Easter trail despite the artic weather! In the first 3 days alone, 48 children have completed the trail and collected their eggs. It’s created a buzz, parents think it’s great that there is something for the children to do over the holidays, many have commented that they’ve not been into certain shops before and will return, so very positive. I do believe it’s created a real community feel.”
– Joanne Hill, Supporting Bramhall, Stockport: “The Indie Easter trail has been a great success in our village. It has brought local retailers together and has triggered the start of many more events that will benefit the retailers and the community. We have had a brilliant response from local families who have braved the cold to visit all of our shops. The trail has provided an opportunity for retailers to interact with new customers and I believe the benefits of the trail will last beyond the Easter holidays.”
– Amanda Ruiz, Local activation partner for the Colchester: “Within 3 hours of starting the event there had already been 10 successful winners. Retailers confirmed that they’d met new customers, some of whom also purchased from them. This is a phenomenal result, and in spite of the snow, this proves how engaged the community are, how willing they are to back their independent retailers and keep their town alive.”
Background to the Independent Easter campaign…
Since its creation in November 2012 the “Enjoy an Independent Easter” campaign has engaged with 56 towns and over 1100 retailers, who are all creating “Easter Egg Hunts” to tackle the issue of declining footfall in towns and village centres. Groups of Independent traders are listed on an “Easter egg hunt map” and shoppers collect “eggs” (cute little Easter egg stickers that are placed on their maps) to complete the hunt. Once the qualifying number of eggs have been collected the map is swapped for a real chocolate egg and a certificate of completion, awarded to all the children taking part. The event runs though until Sunday 14th April, so it captures the whole of the school Easter holiday period.
Clare Rayner is available to provide further content for print / online publication or to engage in broadcast interviews, either down the line or in the studio. All requests for media contribution should be addressed to Clare directly – email firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 44 (0) 1727 238890 or Mobile +44 (0) 7734 411590. You can find out more about Clare via www.retailchampion.co.uk
To find out more about the Support for Independent Retail Campaign and the Enjoy an Independent Easter activities visit www.independentretail.co.uk and www.indieeaster.co.uk or follow on social media – twitter via @IndieRetailUK or www.facebook.com/IndependentRetail
About the Support for Independent Retail campaign and it’s events…
The Support for Independent Retail campaign is a year-round source of support, advice, ideas and inspiration founded by retail expert, Clare Rayner. Its aim is to help independent retailers and those who serve consumers to get, and stay, open for business! The campaign receives no government funding and is reliant on sponsorship and goodwill.
In 2013 the campaign is urging people to pledge to support independent retailers by diverting just 20% of what they spend elsewhere to their local, independent retailers – see Article: Pledge your support for Independent Retail
The campaign includes 3 annual events which include “Enjoy an Independent Easter” – www.indieeaster.co.uk, “Independent Retailer Month” – www.independentretailermonth.co.uk and “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” – www.indiechristmas.co.uk.
To contact the campaign team, email email@example.com or call on 01727 238890.