IT’S US Independence Day but for the UK retail trade, July 4 has been designated Independents Day.
Independent shops around the region are taking part in the initiative, organised by the Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail, which aims to persuade more shoppers to support their local small stores and businesses.
In North Tyneside, three out of four shops in the borough’s town centres are independents, such as North Shields health food and supplement store Mother Nature, which was set up in 1986.
Owner Michelle Hay said: “Over the years, we have built up relationships with hundreds of customers who come back to us time and time again.
“They tell us that they value our friendly approach and we’re able to give them advice and suggest products based on what we know about them and their circumstances.
“Four years ago, a national chain which is a direct competitor established a premises next to us, and we were worried about the impact that might have on our business, but we were extremely pleased to find we’ve been able to hold our own.
“Our customers continue to value the personal touch.
“It’s really down to this loyal local customer base that we’ve been able to weather the recent economic downturn.”
Independents Day organisers want shoppers to show their support by buying at least one item from a local, independent shop this week or at the weekend.
North Tyneside elected mayor Linda Arkley said: “It is vital that we continue to support our small, independent businesses if we want our town centres to survive and thrive.
“We need to remember that if we don’t use our local shops and services, we could lose them.”