Support for Independent Retail campaign overhaul to be launched at Future High Street Summit

A major reconstruction of the processes behind the Support for Independent Retail campaign will be unveiled at the Future High Street Summit in Nottingham next week. The campaign, which has aided independent retailers since the launch of its first activities in 2011, will introduce a brand new licensing structure, enabling local authorities to purchase the rights to all resources for its three annual events.
New figures from the British Independent Retailers Association (bira), released today in partnership with LDC, have shown that the growth rate for independent retailers has slowed drastically, indicating further issues may be on the horizon for the UK’s high streets. While chain stores have tripled their closure rates in recent years, independent retailers have been filling the gaps, but now it is becoming likely that vacancy rates will once again rise as local authorities fail to encourage and support smaller businesses.
“The statistics show that there are fewer independent retailers opening and if this continues, they will no longer be filling the gaps left by major players pulling out of our high streets,” explains Clare Rayner, founder of the Support for Independent Retail campaign and of the Future High Street Summit. “Smaller shops are so important to the UK and they’re the ones who are keeping local economies afloat. Local authorities need to divert this oncoming storm and start prioritising their small businesses and independent retailers. If they don’t, the high street could face a real crisis.”
She adds, “We decided to launch the campaign’s new structure at the Summit because it’s local authorities who can really make a difference by investing in our events. It’s time for councils, town teams, BIDs and other high street stakeholders to shift their ambitions away from unlikely chain store openings and towards the smaller, consumer-facing businesses who are actually making a difference to town and city centres.”
The new structure will enable local authorities to buy into the licence for the campaign and receive a full package of support and resources to aid their efforts. There are several options to choose from, including one- and two-year licences for any or all of the campaign’s annual events: Enjoy an Independent Easter,Independent Retailer Month, and Celebrate an Independent Christmas.
Research by CLES and FSB has often been used by the campaign to highlight the importance of independent retailers, showing that for every £1.00 spent locally, around 50-70p makes its way back to the local economy. If that same £1.00 is spent out-of-town, local communities would only see 5p trickle back.
Clare continues, “Local authorities need to do something to ensure that consumers continue to shop locally. And with so many multiples leaving local high streets, that support needs to be focused on those independent retailers who have been actively lowering vacancy rates and boosting the local economy. Councils have been barking up the wrong tree for far too long and it’s high time that they began backing the real winners of the high street.
“It’s important that local authorities also start supporting their local businesses with skills development. We’ll hear so much about the digital skills gap during the Summit, but there’s also a need for practical business skills if retailers want to remain viable in the modern age.
She adds, “I’ll also be on hand at the event to discuss my ’10 Steps’ master classes, which can help to ensure that councils are not only creating a town centre buzz with the Independent Retail events, but ensuring that when customers arrive in their towns, they are greeted by high quality retailers who have all the ingredients for success.”
High street stakeholders who are interested in learning more about the Support for Independent Retail campaign’s new structure and the benefits of becoming an Independent Retail licensee can ask the campaign’s team directly at the Summit. There will also be promotional materials available for delegates to take with them to show their colleagues and community members.
The Future High Street will be held at Nottingham Conference Centre within Nottingham Trent University on 25th and 26th March, providing the perfect opportunity for councils, BIDs, town teams, town centre managers and other high street stakeholders to explore their options for improving their town and city centres. For more information on the event and to see the full agenda, visit the Future High Street Summit website.
Tickets for the conference are on sale now and attendees can sign up at www.futurehighstreet.co.uk/register.

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