Independents’ Day 2011 – your high street needs you!

Independents’ Day 2011 – your high street needs you!

On 4th July 2011 across the country, the public will be encouraged to buy at least one item from their local, independent shop to keep their high street alive.

Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail have teamed up with independent retailers and trade associations around the UK including the Association of Town Centre Management, British Independent Retailers Association, Independent Booksellers Forum, National Federation of Retail Newsagents, Photo Marketing Association and Independent Footwear Retailers Association to celebrate diversity on the high street.

The vast majority (92%) of retail businesses, 169,835 businesses, employ fewer than ten people. These businesses help to create a strong community around town centres and high streets but many are struggling to compete in today’s tough retail landscape. Independents’ Day is a chance for the public to show their appreciation and support for local retailers.

Fresh data from Local Data Company’s surveys of 2,700 UK retail destinations (out of a potential 4,400 total UK destinations), highlights the fact that high street vacancy rates have started to rise again. The Local Data Company states that 14.6% of outlets are now vacant. This indicates that approximately 50,000 units are now not currently open to business on the UK high streets, showing just how challenging the situation is on the ground.

Anne Seaman, Chief Executive of Skillsmart Retail said: “We are delighted to lead this campaign to raise awareness amongst the public of the challenges smaller retailers face. We want to celebrate the rich mix of retail outlets in towns and cities across the UK and encourage independent retailers to invest in skills and training to ensure they continue their strong presence on the high street.”

Independents’ Day also celebrates the skills behind the shop front, highlighting the wide range of specialist skills which retailers need to run a successful business. As increasing numbers of larger retailers invest in training their staff, the 2009 National Employer Skills Survey found that only 4% of small, independent retail businesses currently employ an Apprentice. Ensuring these businesses have the right skills is vital to their future success and helping them access the support they need is a key role of Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail.

The National Skills Academy for Retail’s network of retail skills shops will be promoting Independents’ Day in their areas and holding special events and training courses to support retailers in developing the range of skills and knowledge they need to improve their businesses.

Anne added: “Independent retailers have to be highly skilled business people who not only need to know their products and customers inside-out but must be able to understand all areas of retail including finance, marketing, HR and buying.  Independents’ Day recognises that the continued success of our high streets relies on all retailers having the skills to be the best they can be.”

Independent retailers are being asked to promote the campaign to their customers in their shop windows with the ‘Your high street needs you!’ poster, which can be downloaded online, and by ‘liking’ the campaign on Facebook and following it on Twitter.

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