Independent retailers discuss the benefits of shopping local

POSTED: 3rd July 2015
IN: Business news

Aldermore talks to some of the UK’s small retail business owners to mark the beginning of the national Independent Retailer Month campaign.

undefinedThroughout July, Independent Retailer Month aims to celebrate Britain’s diverse array of independent shops, traders and online sellers, encouraging consumers to swap chain stores for unique local vendors.

In aid of the campaign, Aldermore invited two SME retail business owners to share their thoughts on the benefits of shopping local.

Chris Beards, Owner of Mantons Cards in Port Erin

Having recently won Independent Retailer of the Year in the British Independent Retail Association (BIRA) Awards, Mantons Cards Owner Chris Beards knows how to show customers that smaller retailers can often provide something larger rivals may lack.

“For me, it’s the service that an independent can provide, either with product knowledge or knowledge of the person,” he begins, elaborating, “If they’re local and they come in regularly you know which products you can recommend, what they’ll like and what they don’t like. I think from a customer point of view it all comes down to the service that you can offer.”

He believes the majority of the public is in favour of a thriving independent retail scene, but it doesn’t always translate into their everyday shopping habits.

“Everyone you speak to wants a vibrant, successful high street near them. Obviously not everyone comes and supports the shops, which is the way the high street becomes vibrant, but that is what everyone wants. The biggest challenge is shopping on the internet: it has a big effect on all high street retailers but I think particularly with independents it probably takes a bigger share of their business than it does for the larger chains.”

The card and gift-shop owner suggests shopping with independents also has a significant positive impact on the local area, stating:

“It’s always good for employment opportunities for the general community. When younger people come into the industry, either for a full-time career or just at the start of their career, they’ll learn a lot more skills working with an independent than they will working with a large chain.”

However, he admits that it can be difficult for single SME retailers to make an impact and underlines the need for a more co-operative approach:

“It’s important to have collaboration, maybe formally but also informally. Every high street is improved if there are good shops next door to your own and a few doors from your own; then it will draw people in. People are always looking for a range of services and a range of shops. I think that’s something that’s really important to the future of the high street.”

Johnny Hayes, Chairman of Bishopthorpe Road Traders Association

Alongside being Chairman of the Bishopthorpe Road Traders Association, Micklegate Councillor Johnny Hayes also has fifteen years of experience running his own shop, and is proud to represent a thriving community of independent retailers.

“It would be fair to say that Bishopthorpe Road is a fine example of a local parade where independents are by far the biggest majority of shops and the advantages that brings to the community have been well documented,” he begins, sharing, “Last year we got to the final of the Great British High Street and we’ve been regarded as one of the best examples of shops and community working together.”

Like Beards, Hayes also believes consumers can often enjoy better service with independent shops than their larger counterparts, stating:

“If you were to go into a shop on Bishopthorpe Road, if they didn’t have something they would get it for you within 24 hours or as soon as that could possibly be arranged, whereas I suspect if you were to go into many of the chains and they didn’t have it then that would be the end of the story. If you’ve got an independent who is keen to have your business then they will bend over backwards to make sure you get what you want.”

Equally, he sees several additional benefits for the local area, noting:

“Not only do you get a sense of belonging and that sense of a community feeling happy, but you also get a fantastic range of products, good quality service and very friendly places to meet one another and to enjoy local shops. So the benefits are there at that point, but you also have the point that whatever you spend at a local level is reinvested in the local economy.”

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