Clare Rayner Announces Independent Retailer Month A Success – And Looks Forward To Christmas Shopping Crawls

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independent retailer month

July saw a month long celebration of Indie Retailers with the global Independent Retailer Month. Here in the UK Clare Rayner championed the campaign and helped inspire a range of promotions and activities all across the UK. And the Hub got involved too with a week’s worth of articles focused on Indie Retailers.

We were keen to know whether the event had been a success and what plans were in place for the future to keep the momentum going. We asked Clare Rayner and this is what she said…

Despite the news being full of doom and gloom, consumer confidence remaining low and vacancy rates at an all-time high, for those who participated, Independent Retailer Month was a great success.

There were:

  • In-store events UK wide, with retailers participating from the Orkney Islands to the Isle of White!
  • Tewkesbury decided to celebrate their independents by having a medieval event and holding a series of speciality markets.
  • Banbury held a shopping crawl throughout the month.
  • All around the UK retailers were coming up with activities, promotions and events to entice consumers back to their stores and to encourage them to celebrate the fantastic local independent shops.

In addition, the focus month encouraged retailers planning to go into their end of season sale to get a bit more creative and come up with ways to drive footfall that didn’t depend on promotional discounting to attract customers. This focus resonates well with me…

“In the main I would urge smaller retailers not to attempt to compete on price, but instead to compete on service and experience as this is where you differ from the big chains”

A case study of success – The Dressing Room

Independent Retailer Month events deliver 4% increase in sales!

The Dressing Room is a multi-award winning women’s fashion boutique in St Albans, Hertfordshire owned by Deryane Tadd. Deryane’s approach is one which could have been adopted by ANY quality retailer, so I’d like to share it with you.

The first thing Deryane and her team did was to launch a competition.

They invited people to tell them ‘Why do you shop Independent?’ They reported a fantastic response to this. People clearly loved posting their reasons on facebook, and sharing their stories about shopping indie.  A different prize was offered each week for the comment that the team at The Dressing Room judged to be the best.

They also had a raffle, which ran both in store and online. Every time someone purchased an item during July they were automatically given an entry into the raffle – the more frequently they shopped, the greater their chance was of winning the prize – a luxury goody bag! 

However, the key feature of their campaign activity was that double loyalty points were offered on every Saturday throughout July in order to boost footfall. The impact of this simple “promotion” was phenomenal, sales increased on event days by 4% as a direct result. A fantastic achievement and one that would be entirely replicable for any other retailer.

As I mentioned, there had been some concern about running the campaign during July, due to it being sale time. The Dressing Room proved that it could be a real success – they managed to increase footfall at a time when they need to sell through their sale stock. Of course they also took every opportunity to introduce all those customers the new season stock as well. Deryane and her team never missed a chance to meet a new customer, and through their fantastic service and well-presented store, the fact that some of the range was in an end of season sale really didn’t matter, what mattered was that they had the opportunity to meet, and impress, a whole load of new customers who they can now re-engage and keep coming back.

That is the essence of Independent Retailer Month – it creates the environment for retailers to create activities, promotions and events to engage consumers and to keep them coming back not just for the duration of the month but throughout the whole year.

Keep the momentum going with Christmas shopping crawls…

Now July is over, what’s next?

It’s time to Celebrate an Independent Christmas!

Inspired by Banbury’s shopping crawl, and knowing these have been hugely popular AND beneficial to the local economy in the USA, it’s time to focus on Christmas…

Celebrate an Independent Christmas is a new campaign, launching this year, as a spin-off from Independent Retailer Month.

Retailers are encouraged to work collaboratively in their community and with the support of “Local Activation Partners” to create “Christmas Shopping Crawls”.

The campaign focuses on engaging local independent businesses to create “activation events” which will be fun AND which will have a positive social and economic impact in their locale. The campaign is a nationwide effort to improve footfall to our high streets, towns and village centres, to increase consumer confidence, and to boost retail sales.

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to give independent businesses a real boost in sales; already many achieve over 30% of their annual sales in the 6 weeks before Christmas. Increasing sales during what is already a peak period could make a significant difference to their bottom line. They have the opportunity to introduce new customers to their product ranges, to give them a sample of their services, or just to increase consumer awareness of their existence. The first step in re-engaging disenchanted consumers with the high street is to give them a good reason to visit; the next step is for the businesses trading there to showcase what they’ve been missing out on! Christmas Shopping Crawls, if well implemented, can deliver exactly that.

Celebrate an independent Christmas launches on 12th November

  • Local activation partners will help retailers and consumer facing businesses to deliver “Christmas Shopping Crawls”.
  • The campaign will be supported by a wide range of business organisations and aims to reach consumers with the support of local press, media, councils and the retailers themselves.
  • Consumers will be encouraged to spend a proportion of their Christmas budget – be that on gift and food shopping, partying or pampering – with local, independent businesses.

The message to consumers from the campaign will be that buying from an Independent typically guarantees them a more unique, personal experience. It will highlight that if consumers are looking for a bit of indulgence at this celebratory time of year, if they are seeking more unusual gifts, unique outfits, delicious treats or special social occasions, they should explore their local independents. To capture consumers’ imaginations, to encourage them to make the effort to seek out their local independents, the campaign will be calling on retailers and business organisations to work together to create “Christmas Shopping Crawls”.

To find out more about the Independent Christmas Campaign visit www.independentretailermonth.co.uk/christmas-shopping or follow on social media – twitter via @IndieRetailUK or www.facebook.com/IndependentRetailerMonthUK

I look forward to celebrating an Independent Christmas with you!

Clare Rayner

Clare RaynerNews article written by Clare Rayner, The Retail Champion
Retail Expert, Mentor, Author, Speaker

UK lead for Independent Retailer Month

Author of 10 Steps Too Retail Success