The credit crunch is biting, the discounters are growing, and it’s been tipping down with rain for most of the summer, it seems. Independent retailers could be forgiven for running to the hills

There’s nothing we can do about the weather, and not a lot we can do about competition, either. When the climate takes a turn for the worse, all we can really do is seek as much shelter as possible.

But shelter can be hard to find. At a time when shoppers are really counting the pennies, they hope that retailers can help them out. But rising costs have given store owners little option but to up their prices.

Faced with this double whammy, where will shoppers take their diminishing disposable cash? The market stats tell us that they are taking it to the so-called discounters, although while now is a great time to be labelled ‘discount’, an improved store offer and more visible marketing have also been key factors in the rise of Aldi, Netto and Lidl.

It’s more tricky for independents to be seen as a discount solution for cash-strapped families. But it can be done, as long as retailers get the right shelter and the right support.

So now is the time for wholesalers to come through. The trade needs the keenest prices, efficiency savings, innovative ranges and good lines of supply. There are already some good examples to point to – Costcutter has put more focus on special offers and Booker’s Euro Shopper range goes from strength to strength. But we need more like this.

It would be a foolish neighbourhood retailer who let his customers down in stormy weather, and it would be a very short-sighted wholesaler who did the same.