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Independent Retail Month kicks off with indie-boosting events

Shop owners around the country are marking the start of a month of initiatives to promote independent retailing.

As part of Independent Retail Month, a series of special events has been arranged to take place throughout July, with a number of independent fashion retailers and venues taking part.

These include charity fund-raising challenges, live music and special discounts and offers for shoppers.

Independent Retail Month was founded in 2011 in response to declining footfall on the high street and a wave of retailer administrations and closures that hit both multiples and independents.

Founder Clare Rayner said: “Over the last five years, high street footfall has dropped by more than 26%. Retailers have to work a lot harder to get customers back. This is a way they can work together to do so.”

Ruth George, owner of Edinburgh-based independent womenswear store Eden, said: “I’ve been involved from the start and it’s definitely getting more attention and awareness from the public. It’s about creating the independent habit with shoppers and building up a long-term relationship.”

Rayner, who has since set up another initiative, the Support for Independent Retail Campaign, said retailers and business improvement districts from around 50 towns and cities are taking part this year.

These include Cambridge, where a collective of 45 independents is joining together to provide special offers and competitions for shoppers, and Nottingham, where a two-day vintage and antiques fair with music, a barbecue and a vintage tea party are being held at independent retail cluster Cobden Chambers.

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