The countdown to the 2014 Independents’ Day celebration has begun, with this year promising to be bigger than ever.

Last year thousands of independent businesses in over 150 parts of the UK took part in the campaign which is fronted by The National Skills Academy for Retail and People 1st and sponsored by Mondelez International.

Now in its fourth year, the campaign celebrates the contribution independent businesses make to the UK and culminates on 4 July, when the public are encouraged to make use of independent businesses including their local shops.

This year 18 trade associations are supporting the campaign and independent businesses are also being offered help to develop their online skills through the new Digital High Street Skills programme - a modular series of webinars, face-to-face presentations and workshops set to be held across the UK.

Jane Rexworthy, executive director of strategic partnerships for People 1st, said: “The campaign has gained considerable momentum over the last four years and we are certain that this year’s campaign will be the most successful yet.”

Skills and enterprise minister Matthew Hancock said: “Independents’ day is a great opportunity for people to show their support for small businesses - the lifeblood of our economy. It is part of the government’s long term economic plan to ensure that small businesses have the right environment to grow.

“The Digital High Street programme, launched this year, will also help businesses take advantage of increasing opportunities online and the new markets that will open up.”