Last year’s National Independents’ Week saw retailers across the country donning bright yellow T-shirts and showing their customers and communities that they are unashamedly Local and Proud of It.

This year the shirts and the sentiment behind them are back for the week of June 1-6 with another chance for local stores to celebrate their role at the heart of the community and, just as important, make the most of the year’s best opportunity to drive footfall in their stores.

Alan Toft, chairman of the FWD’s My Shop is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign, which co-ordinates the week’s activities, says that over its six years the initiative has shown itself to be a proven sales winner, but advises retailers to get cracking on their plans right away.

“With more preparation and planning at retail level, so much more can be achieved,” he says. “Your business is only different from the giant retail corporations and suppliers in its scale. They produce annual marketing plans with quarterly updates, and you can do the same. Your wholesaler’s promotional calendar will be the basis of everything – dovetail your own local marketing initiatives into this.”

Toft reveals that in 2008, sales data from 15,000 retailers supplied by Landmark Wholesale showed that products promoted for NIW increased sales by an average of 15.7%. “You may be grateful for this kind of uplift in crunch time,” he adds.

Many retailers will be marking the week with activities every day, and MSYS has come up with an excellent initiative which every independent can adopt.

“The Walk & Shop concept is based on saving money for your customers,” Toft says. “It encourages shoppers to walk to your store, which saves petrol costs, avoids food waste by buying more frequently, and reduces carbon emissions.

“Why not begin your own Walk & Shop campaign right now by telling your customers how much carbon they do not produce by walking to your place?” MSYS is distributing store window posters, tailored to each store and demonstrating the carbon savings made by your customers, from its website, www.myshopisyourshop.co.uk.

Toft suggests stores draw up a promotional calendar of promotional ideas related to walking – a walking race, a poster competition in the local school, or a prize for a song on the benefits of walking.
Plans in place
John Mainwood

Sedlescombe Village Stores, East Sussex

“Jenny and I have been giving National Independents’ Week a lot of thought this year. Our efforts in the past two years have been modestly successful, but have not involved enough people from the local community.

“This year we want to involve as many village groups and organisations as possible and provide a fun family ‘tea party’ atmosphere at no cost for those attending. We’re going to make use of village playing field and the brand new sports pavilion, which should be completed and open by June – just!

“These are our plans so far. We’ll invite participation from the primary school, residents of warden-assisted flats, local sports clubs, Pestalozzi Children’s Village, the Women’s Institute, the Garden Society, the village pub and other similar community-based institutions. We’ll ask them to help run various fun activities, such as kids vs parents rounders, a BBQ, fun races and a treasure hunt. We’ll provide free refreshments – hopefully with help, as before, from Tetley and United Biscuits, and we’ll also supply materials for the Women’s Institute to make cakes for everyone.

“We really hope that this will end up involving just about the whole community, which will be good for all of us!”
All organised
Bill and Lesley Brown of Barnstaple in Devon already have their NIW mapped out:

Monday

Yeo Valley woodland fact-finding day

Tuesday

Youngest customer competition

Wednesday

Tea and a chat with the agony aunt

Thursday

Frankmarsh’s Got Talent (local talent competition)

Friday

Round the World wine tasting

Saturday

Talent competition final
Local to a tea
National Cuppa Day is the first ever national celebration of Britain’s love affair with the cup of tea and who better to host the nationwide tea party than the country’s local shops?

So tell your customers that on June 3 they are all invited for tea, biscuits and a good old chinwag in your store. It’s a chance to get to know them even better, and show them what being a community retailer means.

Tetley Tea and United Biscuits will be offering deals on their products at wholesalers and cash & carries and the day also has widespread support from throughout the supply chain.

Wholesale group Sugro is committed to involving 300 of its customers’ stores. “It’s hard to believe that our national beverage did not have the benefit of country-wide celebration until My Shop is Your Shop came along with National Cuppa Day,” says managing director Philip Jenkins. “It’s a brilliant idea, which is powerfully supported by key suppliers, and we are wholeheartedly getting our top 300 shops behind this and the campaign as a whole.”

Find out more at www.myshopisyourshop.co.uk – and remember it’s never too early to start telling your customers all about it.

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