PLAT­FORM It makes sense to buy in­de­pen­dent

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - Byg­lyn­roberts, Chiefex­ec­u­tive, Re­tailni If you want to get in­volved, please con­tact us at info@re­tailni. com or @re­tail_ni or through our Face­book page.

To­mor­row, Re­tail NI will launch its sig­na­ture cam­paign, In­de­pen­dents’ Day. Now in its 10th year, the cam­paign show­cases all that is good about North­ern Ire­land’s fan­tas­tic ar­ray of lo­cal re­tail­ers, urg­ing shoppers to sup­port in­de­pen­dent busi­nesses.

It takes place every year on July 4, which is, of course, more widely known as Amer­ica’s In­de­pen­dence Day and while this day typ­i­cally cel­e­brates the stars and stripes across the At­lantic, we want to cham­pion the many stars of our sec­tor who have un­doubt­edly earned their stripes.

What makes In­de­pen­dents’ Day truly unique is the ef­forts made to ed­u­cate con­sumers and con­vince them of the wider ben­e­fits of shop­ping lo­cal. Re­tail NI is work­ing to get the mes­sage out there that 70 pence in every pound spent with an in­de­pen­dent re­tailer is put back into your lo­cal econ­omy and goes on to sup­port farm­ers, pro­duc­ers and even town cen­tres.

Our mes­sage goes beyond ‘Shop Lo­cal’; we are high­light­ing the in­no­va­tion and en­trepreneur­ship of our in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers. This sec­tor is con­tin­u­ously grow­ing and adapt­ing to keep up with chang­ing con­sumer trends and, it must also be said, of­ten nav­i­gat­ing chal­leng­ing wa­ters. The re­tail in­dus­try is es­pe­cially sus­cep­ti­ble to chang­ing mar­kets as stores com­pete daily with small profit mar­gins, in­creas­ing over­heads and fluc­tu­at­ing con­sumer con­fi­dence. Un­doubt­edly, th­ese un­cer­tain­ties cause con­cern yet the in­dus­try’s great­est strength is in how it over­comes th­ese threats.

The vi­brancy of in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers has al­lowed us to avoid a ‘clone town’ sce­nario and Re­tail NI is ex­tremely proud of our hard­work­ing mem­bers who are play­ing a cen­tral role in cre­at­ing new, ex­cit­ing town cen­tres, which cater to the 21st cen­tury shop­per. It’s im­por­tant that peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate the many fan­tas­tic, fun des­ti­na­tions we have that peo­ple will want to visit time and time again. Put­ting so­cial into shop­ping is key to the fu­ture of our re­tail sec­tor.

This July, con­sumers across North­ern Ire­land will have ac­cess to unique shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences but whether you’re in Lis­burn or Bal­ly­mena, En­niskillen or Cook­stown, a wide range of in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers will be there to cater to your every need.

To en­cour­age shoppers to stay lo­cal, we are work­ing on a range of in­cen­tives and dis­counts for con­sumers, mak­ing a trip to the high street all the more ap­peal­ing. But this isn’t some­thing we can do alone and are pleased to have the full sup­port of our lo­cal coun­cils and cham­bers. Given that our lo­cal coun­cils play the lead role in re­gen­er­at­ing our town cen­tres, it’s fan­tas­tic many have ar­ranged dis­counted car park­ing on this day.

We have lost too many in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers in re­cent years and, at 15%, North­ern Ire­land still has the high­est shop va­cancy in the UK.

It is for this rea­son that we are mak­ing the plea to shoppers to get out there and make the strong state­ment that you value hav­ing lo­cal shops.

Thanks to sup­port from our part­ners Tran­slink and Heathrow Air­port, it’s clear that this July all roads lead to your lo­cal high street.

We can’t prom­ise fire­works or pa­rades but, with your sup­port, we can cre­ate more vi­brant and be­spoke town cen­tres, which, for me, trumps a soul­less outof-town devel­op­ment any day of the year.

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