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Small Business Saturday divides fashion indies

Independent fashion retailers across the UK remain unconvinced about the impact Small Business Saturday will have on trading, as the second annual event approaches on December 6.

Some fashion retailers told Drapers they welcomed anything that encouraged people to shop locally, but others felt it made little difference.

The annual initiative, which takes place on the first Saturday of December, aims to encourage footfall to independent retailers and micro-chains through a national media campaign. It provides point-of-sale promotional materials and encourages retailers to run in-store offers on the day.

“We know a lot of people will walk past the same local shop 20 times without going in, but once they know about it they will shop there,” said national campaign director Michelle Ovens, who launched the event last year. “We help people discover what’s out there, which changes their behaviour.”

Ovens said the campaign, which is supported by a network of larger businesses such as American Express, has a bigger reach this year.

Deryane Tadd, owner of The Dressing Room in St Albans, is one of the retailers fronting this year’s campaign. She said Small Business Saturday drove sales up 15% year on year in 2013 and anticipates they’ll be up “significantly more” this year, as awareness has increased.

“We did a few in-store events last year and it had a good effect; sales were up on the day. Customers said they made the effort to come in because of it,” she said. “This year we will do double loyalty points on the day, competitions and every transaction will be entered into a prize draw. Hopefully it will be the busiest day of the year.”

However, Diane Bardon, owner of women’s boutique DeJoli in Chiswick, west London, said: “I’m not doing anything for it this year because it made no difference last year. It’s a good idea, but it’s just a gimmick. The main problems I have are rents, business rates and parking.”

Other retailers Drapers spoke to had never heard of Small Business Saturday. Blair Daniel, store manager and buyer of Concept Clothing in Aberdeen, said: “I’ve never heard of it. I don’t think it has transferred as north as we are.”

Ovens said the campaign was “policy neutral” and encouraged consumers and retailers to focus on the positives. “We recognise the challenges small businesses have in terms of access to finance and so on. That’s why we started running workshops this year; many small businesses aren’t aware of what’s out there to help them, so we’re increasingly trying to signpost people to services that can help.”

Artist Sir Peter Blake has released a collage featuring 61 shopkeepers from 40 firms across Britain to mark this year’s Small Business Saturday.

Readers' comments (1)

  • It means well, but it doesn't add up to a hill of beans. If customers want to shop in a particular Indie, they will, not because someone tells them it's Small Business Saturday.

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