Retail Champion Clare Rayner is urging independent retailers, town teams, local councils and business improvement districts (BIDs) to work together to create a local “Christmas Shopping Challenge” to help boost footfall and sales for independent traders during the peak festive season.

Create a Christmas Shopping Challenge in your local area…

From 16th November until Christmas Day, at dates that fit in with other promotional activities for the towns involved, groups of retailers in towns and villages UK-wide are being encouraged to create a fun “Christmas Shopping Challenge”. The challenge invites shoppers, in particular those with young families, to “decorate a Christmas tree” by obtaining a pretty bauble sticker from each of the shops they visit. The Christmas tree will feature on the front cover of a local map which will draw attention to all the independent businesses participating in the activity. When the tree is fully decorated, and 10 bauble stickers have been collected from 10 of the participating shops, the family is award a “Certificate of Completion” and the children are given a little gift. They also get to keep their Christmas tree!

christmas map

This approach to engaging with families to boost footfall was first tried during the “Enjoy an Independent Easter” activities. Feedback from retailers and families alike was so positive that it seemed fitting to adapt the “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” campaign activities to be similar.

In addition to the family-focus towns can optionally include a prize-draw, aimed at adults, as part of the festive-fun. A fully decorated tree, when presented alongside receipts from local businesses up to a specified amount, can qualify a shopper for an array of prizes that the retailers in the town have put together.

Increasing footfall and sales for 1000s of independent retailers UK wide at a critical time of year for trade

This campaign event is part of the year-round “Support for Independent Retail” campaign that aims to raise awareness of thousands of local retailers, to increase footfall into town and village centres, to help our local traders to stay open for business, and to improve collaboration between local businesses and town teams / councils / BIDs.

In addition to the “Christmas Shopping Challenge” retailers are encouraged to really push the boat out this Christmas, creating promotions, activities and events that really capture the imagination of the local community, reminding people exactly what their local centres have to offer them, and as the founder of the Support for Independent Retail, Clare is committed to helping them do just that.

“This campaign activity is now in its second year and it couldn’t be more important. Christmas sales can account for anywhere between 30% and 60% of a retailer’s annual turnover. A bad Christmas can mark disaster, as we have seen for the past 3 Januarys when major players have collapsed into administration. A good Christmas can guarantee survival for the year ahead. Getting customers to divert even a small proportion of their total Christmas Shopping budgets to local independent retailers can make the difference between a business staying open or being forced to shut down. Sadly that’s the harsh reality.” said Clare.

Support for all those who want to create a local “Christmas Shopping Challenge”

All those taking part in the Celebrate an Independent Christmas campaign have access to a range of free, downloadable materials and helpful resources, from promotional posters and thank-you cards, to recorded webinars that step participants through exactly what’s involved in creating a successful Christmas Shopping Challenge.  To find out more see

Clare continued:  “There’s still plenty of time for areas who want to run a Christmas Shopping Challenge to get involved.  Anyone interested in creating an event in their area can take a look at to find out more. There are already 26 areas fully confirmed with many more considering getting involved. I’d LOVE to see that number reach at least 50 by the end of October!

“Anything that boosts positivity and increases camaraderie within a community of traders could be the medicine they need to keep going. Working together to create a Christmas Shopping Challenge can be great fun, and although it’s a really busy time of year it’s worth the investment of time and effort to bring new customers through the door and boost sales.” she added.

To find out which areas have already confirmed that they will be putting on a “Christmas Shopping Challenge” see Retailers, town teams, local councils and BIDs interested in taking part can stay up to date with all the activities by following @IndieRetailUK on Twitter, by visiting the Facebook page at or by subscribing to the newsletter via


In 2012 the inaugural “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” activities engaged with over 50 locations UK-wide, reaching 1000s of retailers and consumer-facing businesses. The campaign activities focus on driving footfall to the smaller, local businesses in our high streets and village centres in an effort to raise awareness, increase footfall and boost sales. It also encourages consumers to divert a proportion of their total Christmas shopping budgets to the local, independent traders.

As part of the year-round “Support for Independent Retail” campaign, it highlights the important role that smaller, independent retailers play in the communities they serve, the local economy they contribute to, and in the retail sector as a whole.

By encouraging  groups of retailers, and even whole towns, to create this fun activity during the peak festive season, this campaign can help to tackle the very real issue of declining footfall in towns and village centres.

Celebrate an Independent Christmas is led by Clare Rayner, The Retail Champion, who is founder of the “Support for Independent Retail” campaign which, alongside the “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” includes Independent Retailer Month, and the “Enjoy an Independent Easter” campaign events.


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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