By Daniel Hunter
On Independents' Day today (Wednesday), when customers are being encouraged to buy from independent traders, British Retail Consortium (BRC) Director General Stephen Robertson says an environment where retailers of all types can succeed is what is really needed.
High streets, where many independents are located, are at the heart of communities, providing vital jobs and services but many are in trouble with worryingly high numbers of shops standing empty.
The BRC continues to campaign to secure a successful retailing future for high streets. Encouraging shoppers to try out the full range of retail on offer is worthwhile but revival really hinges on addressing fundamental issues such as soaring business rates and long-term underinvestment.
The latest increase in business rates added an extra £350 million to retailers' tax bills at a time of minimal growth in consumer spending.
"The big issues determining the fate of retailers of all types are about rising costs at a time of weak consumer demand, but it's good to spend a day celebrating independent retail," British Retail Consortium Director General, Stephen Robertson, said.
"The best shopping locations offer a mix of recognisable big names combined with original and independent stores which give towns their individuality. It's a mistake to think one part of the sector can only succeed at the expense of the other - some of today's independents will go on to be the multiples of tomorrow.
"Successful high streets, where many independent retailers are based, are vital to local communities and economies. We continue to campaign for action to support them and all the retailers trading in them. That means keeping business rates and rents affordable and investing to make each town centre an attractive place to visit which is safe, welcoming and accessible."
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