A recent snap poll from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), as part of its revival of the ‘Keep Trade Local’ campaign, found that a lack of consumer confidence will continue to pose a serious challenge to businesses in the next year.
The continued decline of the UK’s high streets is putting undue strain on many businesses, particularly as supermarkets and online retailers continue to prosper.
In a bid to encourage local firms to work together to breathe new life into the nation’s high streets, the FSB’s ‘Keep Trade Local’ campaign is designed to raise awareness that consumers must use their local shops or face losing it once and for all.
Traditionally at the heart of any local community, local independent stores generate wealth, employment and opportunity. However, with people working longer hours, coupled with increasing convenience of ‘fast lane’ supermarkets and internet shopping, these places are now firmly at risk.
The FSB’s recent ‘Voice of Small Business’ Index for the opening quarter of 2013 found that confidence among retailers fell from 1 to -11, with firms now overwhelmingly negative about their prospects. Meanwhile almost half (47 per cent) of respondents admitted their revenue had declined in Q1 2013.
Consequently, the FSB is calling on local authorities, councils and central government to focus on breathing new life into grassroots economics by working in partnership and encouraging independent businesses to prosper.
The Keep Trade Local campaign is centred on:
making business rates fairer and encouraging small business rate relief to be made permanent in England as it is in Scotland
indexing business rates in line with the CPI inflation measure
encouraging central and local government to focus on the ‘three P’s’ – planning, parking and procurement – in a bid to buoy local trade
Mike Cherry, national policy chairman for the FSB, said: "Once the high street starts to go into decline it can be difficult to revive. But with the right measures from councils and local authorities the tide can be turned.
"Our recent survey on business confidence found that small business owners are still concerned with the issues that previously underpinned Keep Trade Local.
"The Government clearly understands these issues and the importance of local economies and the high streets within them. The Mary Portas review gave many recommendations which we believe are important to the future prosperity of the high street.
"The horsemeat scandal provided a short-term boost to our high streets, but it is time for a more concerted effort from everybody to keep their local high streets vibrant and alive."