National Independents' Week (NIW), the annual showcase for the convenience retail industry, saw high-profile media coverage of the small store's unique place at the heart of the community.

Booker head of Premier and Retail Steve Fox was heard by millions of listeners when he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that consumers were returning to local shops because they recognised they offered value.

He denied that local stores could not be competitive with the multiples, and added that families were wasting an average £11 a week by throwing away food, something they could avoid by buying locally.

Steve Parfett of Parfetts Cash & Carry told Radio 5 Live listeners that local shops could survive in a recession. "We as a business are doing rather well and the local indepedent retail sector is showing bigger growth than the multiples," he said.

"More people are shopping locally and are spending more carefully. There is a resurgence in local shopping for proper old- fashioned groceries. People are making their own meals again, rather than buying ready made."

Parfett added that the supermarkets' price superiority was " an illusion", and that consumers could find real value in small shops.

NIW organiser Alan Toft said: "In contrast to the doom usually associated with media coverage of the independent sector, the story about local shops last week was good and positive."

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