Newly appointed Mayor of Ards and North Down has backed a campaign to engage the public with local independent retailers.

Independents’ Day is Retail NI’s signature campaign and celebrates the huge contribution that independent retailers make to the local economy and to towns, cities and villages right across the province.

The campaign also highlights the importance of supporting local businesses, encouraging consumers to make the most of town centres, high streets and convenience stores, not just in July, but all year round.

Councillor Richard Smart, Mayor of Ards and North Down

“It is important to support Independents’ Day. Our town centres and high streets have undergone dramatic change over the last decade with the surge of online shopping and the shockwave of the economic crisis. Many of our independent retailers have suffered as a consequence. Independent retailers are often the liveblood of our towns and offer essential products and services to the residents that live there. They make a huge contribution to the entire local economy, providing investment and employment opportunities as well as supporting local producers and the supply chain. The Borough has many independant retail outlets from department stores to boutiques to artisian eateries and each play into the vibrancy of the area.”

CEO of Retail NI Glyn Roberts said that for every £1 spent in local stores, suppliers and high streets, 70 pence remains in our local economy.

Glyn said; “To complement this year’s campaign, we have carried out extensive consumer research in towns across Northern Ireland, and the results show that consumers want to shop local and keep their hard-earned money within their own economy.”

“What’s special about Independents’ Day is our work to extend our message beyond our members and keep provenance at the forefront of our consumers’ decision making, continuing to support farmers, producers and town centres.”

Cllr Richard Smart added: “Independents give our towns and villages a uniqueness, making them more attractive to local shoppers and tourists alike. It is vital that we do all we can to drive home the ‘shop local’ message to consumers.  Independent retailers really do need our support to ensure they can continue to serve our communities and to sustain the very fabric and vibrancy of our local high streets.

The research carried out by Perceptive Insight and commissioned by Retail NI in May 2018 revealed that 59% of shoppers mainly visit their local town centres for their food shopping, and 84% basket shop in smaller, independent stores between one and three times per week.

Independents’ Day will take place on Wednesday 4 July with various activities throughout the province – all details can be found on Retail NI’s dedicated webpage.

Partners to the initiative include Heathrow Airport, Q Radio and Translink who will be running attractive bus and rail services throughout the summer to ensure shopping and visiting our local town centres is even easier.

Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive said; “We’re encouraging shoppers to use public transport on Independents Day and enjoy a range of summer discount bus and train tickets for great value and convenient journeys right across Northern Ireland. Local independent retailers play a vital role in the community and in supporting our economy so we’re encouraging our passengers to buy local and enjoy that more ‘personal touch’ during their shopping experience.”

All details on this year’s campaign can be found online or by following #IndieDayNI18 on social media.

Photo caption – The Mayor of Ards and North Down Council, Cllr Richard Smart launches Retail NI’s Indepentant’s Day taking place on Wednesday 4 July. This campaign encourages members of the public to support local independent retailers within the Borough. Pictured alongside the Mayor at the launch are Keith Irvine, General Manager of local Newtownards retailer, Warden Brothers and Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of Retail NI.

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