Back Britain’s retail sector on Independents’ Day 2012

Call for public to support independent retailers on 4th July

This Wednesday, 4th July, marks Independents’ Day 2012 with thousands of retailers across the UK calling on the great British public to buy at least one item from a local, independent shop and join the fight to keep our high streets alive.

 

From book stores to butchers, florists to fashion boutiques, the day shines a light on the many and varied independent retailers in the UK, raising awareness of the important contribution they make to high streets, local communities and the UK economy, as well as the wide range of specialist skills required to run a successful business.

 

Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail have teamed up with independent retailers and trade associations that represent over 12,000 small businesses to celebrate diversity on the high street and encourage people to get behind their local stores.

From Aberdeen to Penzance, thousands of retailers will be taking part in a huge range of activities including high-street parties, shop-front barbecues, market stalls, street entertainment, product showcases, match-any-offer deals and discounts for customers.

 

Following a number of recent government initiatives to boost town centres and local communities, such as the Portas pilots, Coastal Communities Fund and City Skills Fund, independent retailers want to remind people about the important role they play in a thriving village, town or city centre.

 

The UK has 171,495 independent retail businesses, with 91% employing fewer than 10 people. These businesses are central to building strong communities, yet many are struggling to compete in today’s tough retail landscape. Nearly 24,000 shop units – 14% of the UK – are currently empty in UK town centres (UK Data Company, April 2012).

 

However a recent report (Openings and Closures 2012) reveals that the ‘number of independents grew by 2.4% last year, with more than 15,000 opening – three times more than chains.’ Beauty salons and nailbars were increased by 16.5%. Other areas of expansion included fashion, autos and accessories, charity stores, pet retailers and pound shops.

 

Recent research from the National Skills Academy for Retail explains why; shoppers love to go local. 42% of us choose to shop locally to boost businesses and 38% feel we are keeping local people in work. Perhaps most revealingly, 51% of shoppers believe we receive a higher level of customer service in independents, while 43% of people cite a ‘unique service’.

Anne Seaman, Chief Executive of Skillsmart Retail said: “We are delighted to lead this campaign to raise awareness of both the challenges smaller retailers face and also their importance both locally and nationally.”

“This Independents’ Day we encourage everybody in the UK to buy at least one thing from an independent and celebrate their local retailers.”

To assist retailers in developing the range of skills and knowledge they need to ensure the future of their businesses, the National Skills Academy for Retail is holding special events and training courses through its network of skills shops on high streets and in shopping centres throughout the UK.

Jane Rexworthy, Director of Skills Solutions and Head of the National Skills Academy for Retail said: “We are delighted to see so many retailers and town centres getting involved in the Independents’ Day campaign. We hope that all will take full advantage of the support available to them, whether that is training, mentoring or assistance in taking on additional staff through the new Retail Apprenticeship Training Agency (RATA).”

 

People can follow events and see what’s happening in their area via Twitter: @Retail_IndieDay or Facebook: facebook.com/independentsday. A full schedule of activities is available at www.retailindieday.com.

 

More information on the support available to independent retailers is available at

www.nsaforretail.com

 

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