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Do we need independent retailers?

July 2013 is Independent Retailer Month so it seems a good time to actually ask the question: do we need independent retailers?

As a leading UK retail point of sale manufacturer we work with both large National retailers and smaller independent retailers so we are perhaps in a string position to examine the importance of both sectors to the UK economy.

From a market-driven point of view, there is no right or wrong answer. If any retailer doesn’t provide what the consumer is looking for then it will fail and this rule applies as much to Woolworth and Dwell as it does to the local coffee shop. But this simple view has not taken into account the value that local retailers play in the local community.

The brainchild behind Independent Retailer Month Clare Rayner has no doubts about the importance of independents to local communities saying “Independent retail is important. They are the life-blood of our local retail centres - towns, high streets, villages. Buying locally supports local traders, their suppliers and the people they depend on to run their businesses. Buying locally boosts the local economy, rebuilding confidence in the community, enabling local businesses to prosper and grow.”

She quotes research from The Centre for Local Economic Strategies that prove that for every £1 that is spent with a local, independent business, between 50p-70p circulates back into that local economy.

But Clare is also realistic that in hard pressed times all consumers will need to a desire to support their local communities with the need to get the best value where possible. But she also challenges the assumption that independents are more expensive than supermarkets or national chains. She asks that consumers give their independents a chance!

We have been prominent in championing the importance of the High Street to local communities and welcome any effort to highlight the value and variety of independent retailers across the UK. It’s never easy being an independent – decisions about stock, branding, point of sale and retail display, staffing etc – cannot be delegated to anybody else and the latest downturn has added greater pressure to margins.

We wish everyone involved in Independent Retail Month all the best – for this July and all year round.