Is it time to be a little less Arkwright?

If you were to stop people in the street and ask them to name a shop owner they’ve seen on television, who do you think would be top of their list?  Perhaps Arkwright or Granville from Open All Hours? Maybe Dev and Sunita from The Corner Shop in Coronation Street, or Ian and Masood from Beale's Plaice in Eastenders?

In a sense the answer is immaterial. We are as big a fan of traditional shops as we are of Open All Hours – and certainly we want to shout about all those amazing traditional shops - but television’s depiction of independent retailers continues to be locked on how retailers used to be. It’s time for all of us to try and move the needle just a little. Rarely do you get a glimpse of the innovation, the breadth of range, the creativity, ability to run bricks and mortar as well as online shops not to mention the really personal service that are the hallmarks of independent retailers in 2018.  

And yet more and more people seem to be hunting down independent retailers. This should be encouraging for all of us so long as we understand why and act where we can to cement their commitment. Research from 2016 conducted by The Leadership Factor on behalf of delivery firm myHermes found that one in five people were shopping with independent retailers more than they had a year previously, a figure that rose to 30 per cent of 18 to 24-year olds. Although independent retailers were popular because they offered better customer service, better quality and were easy to find online, almost half of the people surveyed said they would be more likely to frequent an independent shop if it were near their home. To our mind, this reinforces the importance of reaching out into our immediate communities, engaging and encouraging to people to visit, using the power of social media not only to reach out wide but also to hone in on those closest to us.

Part of this process is recognising that the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts. It’s one of the reasons why we are relaunching the Independents’ Day campaign for 2018 – to provide a vehicle that all independent retailers can use in their own communities, to engage with their own local shoppers, to promote their own particular business, not just on July 4th – though that’s the focal point of the campaign – but, of course, all year round.

Independents’ Day UK wants to give voice to amazing independent retailers like you to remind shoppers that when they go into an independent retailer, amazing things await them. We hope you’ll come on board and help us shout it from the rooftops. Ends.