The pressures of the High Street and ‘bricks and mortar’ retailing are perhaps most keenly felt by the independent sector, or IBDs.
With business rates set in stone until 2017 (sticking with rates set when the going was good in 2008) and the Local Data Company placing shop vacancy rates at 14.6 per cent (compared with 3.3 per cent in September 2008) these are hardly halcyon days.
To try and redress the balance, the Independent Retailer Month campaign has launched a seasonal spin-off – ‘Celebrate an Independent Christmas’, running from November 12th (#IndieXmas).
The campaign said: "The message to consumers will be that buying from an Independent guarantees them a more unique experience…This is the perfect opportunity to give independent businesses a real boost in sales; already circa 30 per cent of their annual sales are achieved in the six weeks before Christmas, an incremental increase during the peak period could make a significant difference to their bottom line.
"Independent Christmas focuses on engaging businesses who in turn will focus on consumers. The consumer engagement originates at the local and community level, with the retailers at the forefront, supported by local press, media, councils, town centre management and other business organisations such as Federation of Small Businesses and Chambers of Commerce.
"Retailers and local business organisations in communities across the UK work together in their specific locale with the objective of drawing local people back to their cities, towns and village centres where these businesses sell goods, and services, to consumers. It is intended to be fun, but to have a very important positive social and economic impact."