With today (Thursday 4 July) being Independents Day the business organisation representing local traders has urged the whole community to make a supreme effort to buy at least one item in a local independent retailer in a bid to keep small shops alive.
With local shops in our town and village centre ailing under the pressure from Internet shopping and out of town shopping centres, and the high cost of fuel, it is now more imperative than ever that local CountyDown businesses pull together and also receive support from the local shoppers.[caption id="attachment_34926" align="alignleft" width="240"] Glynn Roberts, NIIRTA Chief Executive, has called for support for local shops on Independents Day.[/caption]
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has urged local consumers to make it their ‘civic duty’ to support independent retailers otherwise the increasing trend of shop closures will grow.
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Independent Retailers make a fantastic contribution not just to our economy, but to our local communities and town centres and are the route to market for local farmers and producers. To local shoppers it should be your civic duty to give that little bit of support to independent traders today.
“Northern Ireland has not just the worst shop vacancy rate in the UK, but twice the national average with nearly 1 in 4 shops empty. In recent years over 3000 local traders have sadly closed their doors as a result of bad planning policy, recession and many other reasons.
“Sadly if consumers do not support local traders it will be a case of ‘use them or lose them’’.
“Independent Retailers must continue to offer something different to the multiples, ensure world class customer service and embrace online as an opportunity, not as a threat. They also need to be the change makers in twenty first century town centres.“
NIIRTA has published its Fifty Point Policy Plan Town Centre First and will continue to bring solutions to the Executive to tackle the challenges facing independent retailers and town centre”
Theo Paphitis, long time star of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Chairman of Ryman Stationery and Robert Dyas and founder of the lingerie brand Boux Avenue, said: “I am supporting this year’s Independents’ Day campaign as I believe that independent businesses have a vital role to play in our economy. This campaign celebrates the drive, commitment, enthusiasm and passion that most small retailers possess, and need, to make it in retail, as well as the contribution they make to local communities in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK” The National Skills Academy for Retail’s network of over 50 skills shops will be supporting activities to promote the work they do to help independent retailers become more profitable and successful. Through the campaign, funding is available to independent retailers with fewer than 250 employees to access training and mentoring they might not otherwise be able to take advantage of. Jane Rexworthy, Head of the National Skills Academy for 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 villages, 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.”