Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Local retailers need slice of the cake too

Consumers are always on the lookout for value for money. That is the way of the world and all the more pressing in these uncertain economic times.

In the retail sector, they find that value most often in the large multiple stores and they shop there. Throw in the fact that most large supermarkets have free car parking and the choice becomes all the more compelling.

So why then should they heed local independent retailers or the political leaders at Stormont who want them to shop in local stores to stop the rot on the high street? This year around 1,000 local traders have gone out of business and desperate efforts are required to stop this haemorrhaging of local enterprise. Politicians are doing their bit by offering rates relief for small businesses and they want us to do our bit as well.

Their plea may seem hard to sustain in pure economic terms but we have to look at the wider picture.

Competition is the lifeblood of business and the greater the choice for consumers the better. Local businesses set up shop long before the big multiples ever came to Northern Ireland and the demise of so many should make us pause and think. They also provide employment which is not to be sniffed at in the current economic climate.

And, as well as shopping locally, we should also ensure that we buy as much local produce as possible, whether from the supermarkets - which to their credit source much of their stock from local sources - or from smaller businesses. Agriculture is a huge industry and needs to be sustained as producers struggle with diminishing profit margins.

There is a vested interest for all of us to sustain our local businesses and producers and if everyone just made a minor adjustment to their buying habits, they could make a dramatic difference to our struggling independent retailers.

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