It is undisputedly fantastic that once a year independents celebrate and put themselves on the map. Let’s shout out loud for the quality and custom of indies everywhere.
Let’s remember the individual Independents Day (and month) celebrations that take place in towns, villages and cities and are organised by independent networks and communities.
They typify the impact of independent culture across the UK and also that we have to continue to work hard to keep encouraging new and existing custom.
The economic impact is stark:
- According to a CLES (Centre for Local Economic Strategies) for the FSB, for every £1 spent locally around 50p – 70p of that money recirculates back into the local economy. For the same £1 spent out of town or online only 5p trickles back to the local community. So the statistics are stark.
- According to the NEF (New Economics Foundation), each pound spent with a local retailer selling local produce puts twice as much money back into the local economy as a pound spent in a national multiple.
I have seen a lot of BIDs, Councillors and other reps from the public sector coming out in their annual promotion of independent retailers. Yet surely the challenge for these people and organisations is not just to show their support once a year for one week but for 365 days of the year?
With my experience in business support, getting new businesses through their first year of operation is so important. Safeguarding the very diverse offerings of independents is so important for the high street and their wider communities!
Public sector organisations can do this through seeming genuinely committed to the support of independents all year round; yet it too often feels like a token gesture to me, even if they have the budgeted PR clout to get some press focus and wider attention.
The messages of support are too often blurred between an occasional once or twice year support for independents versus the need to showcase the national multiple franchises and global brands that come to any given town or city.
The irony is that the indies are the ones that really need the marketing and PR support, whereas the big franchises and brands have their own PR machines anyhow!
If BIDs and public sector organisations really want to support indies, getting the concerted PR and marketing exercise will help, as would a relief on rates, affordable and subsidised access to business support and advice, all the year round.
Thank goodness that communities in action exist on the ground through the communities of independents – typified by the likes of Bristol Independents or people who encourage startup growth through popup ventures such as WeArePopUp, Pop Up Britain, Appear Here, individuals such as Dan Thompson, not to mention the many online business communities that are geared up to supporting small businesses (too many to mention)
So, I’m all for a focus on celebrating indies every year. Let’s also remember indies need support 365 days a year!