Belfast Telegraph

A day to celebrate vital role small businesses play

Small Business Saturday important for UK and Ireland traders

By Glyn Roberts

If you were active on Twitter on Saturday it would have been very hard not to notice that it was Small Business Saturday across the UK and Ireland.

Throughout Saturday #SmallBizSatUK was trending across the UK, with small businesses promoting their products and politicians posing for pictures with their local business owners.

Locally, talking to members and colleagues in chambers of commerce, it seems Small Business Saturday was a big boost, both in sales and footfall in several different towns and cities.

It is not just a 'shop local' campaign - it is about highlighting the huge contribution all of our small businesses make to the economy in Northern Ireland and throughout the UK

Two of Northern Ireland's leading independent retailers took part in the first ever street market on Friday in Downing Street to promote Small Business Saturday, hosted by Chancellor George Osborne.

NIIRTA members, Joe Quail of Quails Fine Foods from Banbridge and Laura Brown of Arcadia Deli from South Belfast were selected from millions of small businesses owners across the UK, to be amongst the Small Business Saturday Top 100 invited to Downing Street. Small Business Saturday is our national entrepreneurs' day, celebrating the jobs, investment and services our small businesses provide for us all and is also a beacon to encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs, which is so vital to the future of our local economy. In particular, we need to see new retail entrepreneurs coming forward and opening up new small businesses and leading the charge in regenerating our town centres.

While it is absolutely vital that Northern Ireland is attracting more foreign direct investment, it is equally vital that we do more to support our indigenous businesses to expand and put into place the conditions for the next generation of small business owners. Corporation tax devolution is a crucial investment in the future of our economy and a necessary incentive to attract investment, but we must also ensure that our indigenous business base is growing alongside. For both to happen we need world-class skills and training in place.

If the Executive is serious about rebalancing our economy and growing our private sector, then making the proposed cuts to the six further education colleges is the very last thing they should be considering.

Last year it is estimated that Small Business Saturday brought in an additional £10million for local businesses - it looks likely that consumers have played their role to increase that figure for 2015.

It's not just one day a year that we need consumers' support, but every day and every week.

Belfast Telegraph