Retailers are community entrepreneurs whose success must be nurtured by government, an industry body has said.
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has just launched an economic plan for Northern Ireland's MPs and the new Parliament.
Chief executive Glyn Roberts told a lunch attended by Westminster candidates: "As the largest industry in Northern Ireland, a growing, vibrant and entrepreneurial retail sector is essential for a sustainable economic recovery.
"Our members are community entrepreneurs - they connect people, business and investment, and they are the anchors in bringing in jobs to local people. We need to strengthen that connectedness."