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.
Independent retailers are the life-blood of the local economy
Springboard Research for the British Retail Consortium last year found that high street footfall was down 26% between 2007 and 2013 during traditional hours. However, it should be noted that the same research revealed growth in numbers between 5.00pm and 8.00pm.
Another study, conducted by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies for the FSB, discovered that for every £1.00 spent locally, 50-70p recirculates back into the local economy. If that £1.00 was spent out of town, a mere 5p would trickle back to the local community.
Create some excitement – give shoppers a good reason to come to the high street!
Clare Rayner, The Retail Champion and Founder of the Support for Independent Retail campaign, says: “Other than opening later in the evenings or physically pushing people through the shop doors, independent retailers should collaborate to figure out ways to bring the excitement and enticement back to the high street.
Collaboration can be the key to success!
“By working together to find fun, original ways to promote each other, local independent retailers can engage the public’s interest and help them to understand the benefits of shopping locally.”
She continues: “Collaborative events can go a long way to bringing a community together and increasing footfall on the high street. Although some customers may get involved in the events and activities for July only, many more will remember the experience and find themselves shopping in their local stores again in the future.
“Consumers need to be reminded of the advantages of shopping locally, and how those advantages benefit not only the smaller businesses and boutique shops, but the local economy as a whole.”
And this was recently proven in Bath with the first ever “Bath Treasure Hunt”
Shoppers want more than just shops – they demand a better experience, social, leisure and hospitality in the mix!
With Expedia research for ATCM showing that an increasing number of consumers are looking for leisure experiences alongside their shopping expeditions, it’s imperative that independent retailers join forces and create ideas which will give customers the same level of entertainment and social interaction that they would find in a shopping centre.
Clare concludes: “By offering unique shopping experiences and a range of high-quality products, independent businesses already have the upper hand on shopping centres and out-of-town retailers – it’s about time we joined forces to make sure that consumers recognise that too!”
Town teams, BIDs and independent retailers across the UK have been collaborating for their events and activities, to make the most out of the opportunities offered by Independent Retailer Month.
St. Albans, Hertfordshire:
One well-known boutique, The Dressing Room in St Albans, has embraced Independent Retailer Month with several initiatives, including extra sale discounts, double loyalty points and a prize draw for luxury goody bags for both online and in-store customers – all in collaboration with its suppliers.
Deryane Tadd, Owner and Director of The Dressing Room, says: “We set ourselves apart by our attention to detail, outstanding customer focus and an excellent product mix picked with our specific market in mind. All of this is delivered by a team trained to be the best in the business. You simply will not get this from a multiple retailer and we need people to recognise and celebrate that.”
This year, Cambridge BID has brought together more than 45 of the city’s independent shops with special offers, competitions, events and promotions. Collaboration has come into play with the “Discovery Card”, which invites consumers to collect six stamps from different participating businesses in order to be entered into a prize draw to win £150.
Rachel Rissbrook, Cambridge BID’s Marketing and Commercial Manager, explains: “Cambridge BID is committed to working with independent retailers and, by encouraging them to work collaboratively, giving them a stronger voice. By introducing the Discovery Card this year, we are aiming to generate even greater awareness of independents and higher footfall to those businesses. We are proud of our city and believe that independent businesses are a key contributor to our vibrant centre and thriving economy.”
Dunblane, Stirling, Scotland:
Dunblane’s independent retailers are also collaborating for success. Throughout July, more than 20 local businesses are taking part in a loyalty card scheme, where consumers collect stickers from participating retailers for a chance to win one of three cash prizes.
Discover Dunblane BID’s Chair, Tom Casey, comments: “Dunblane town centre is thrilled to be part of Independent Retailer Month. This is one of many activities that the Dunblane town centre traders and Discover Dunblane team will jointly be organising to raise awareness, increase footfall and deliver measurable economic benefits to its community. Dunblane businesses fully understand that by thinking, sharing and working together, we can ensure our future success.”
A similar concept was undertaken in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. For the very first time, the town’s smaller businesses joined together to hold an Independent Shopping Trail. The event engaged both single adults and families, with certificates and sweets for the kids and a chance to win dinner for two at one of the market town’s independent restaurants. The trail was so successful that its organisers have now decided to set up a town team to create more ways to generate interest in the local high street.
The trail’s organiser, Melody Shanahan-Kluth, says: “Collaboration between shops will always be a good thing. Our trail invites the public to visit shops that they might not have been in before, or that they might not even have realised were independent businesses. Through this event, we have got independent retailers talking to each other about what can benefit Sleaford’s high street and a town team has been formed to ensure those ideas come to fruition.”