My first Drapers column might have been about falling consumer spending and the current economic woes, but a daily diet of this makes for depressing reading. I make no apologies for talking about the British Shops and Stores Association and the mutual need and benefits that we have for one another.
Some independent fashion shop owners have websites but rely mainly on their high street location for the bulk of their turnover. Readers who fall into this category, and there will be many of you, have an advantage because you know your customers and their needs. You are also agile enough to react to their demands.
On the other hand, indies are unable to capitalise on economies of scale and many trade within a less consumer-friendly environment. This might be due to problems of access, parking, crime or a general lack of investment in the public realm. Put bluntly, for the majority of indies the ability to trade profitably gets harder by the year as overheads rise and competition becomes ever more cut-throat.
Our association is about helping independent retailers thrive by giving them assistance to control business costs. We give guidance in establishing transactional websites and we fight for investment in the traditional high street. Our agenda for change is about reducing the barriers to young entrepreneurs wishing to set up a shop, and reducing the costs of high street trading. It is also about making the government realise the important social role a vibrant high street has in a local community.
For us both to be successful we need each other’s support. How can we help you?
John Dean is chief executive of the British Shops and Stores Association