Northern Ireland retailers urge public to buy local on Independents' Day
Family-owned businesses across Northern Ireland are hoping to reap the rewards of the public's support today as Retail NI encourages shoppers to think local on 'Independents' Day'.
The campaign - which runs every July 4 to coincide with the American holiday it draws its name from - is Retail NI's annual campaign to celebrate the contribution independent family-owned retailers make to the economy.
This year, the campaign also hopes to encourage the next generation of retail entrepreneurs to consider joining the industry.
It's estimated that more than half of the retailers in Belfast city centre are family-owned - a figure which is on the rise.
But the proportion is thought to be even higher in large shopping towns such as Newtownards, Banbridge and Newry.
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: "This year's Independents' Day is bigger and better than ever before with support across the board from local councils, political parties, chambers of commerce and the secretary of state.
"Independents' Day is not just another shop local campaign - it is much more.
"It is about celebrating the unique contribution family-owned independent retailers make to our community.
"The benefits of supporting independents come right down the supply chain. Over 90% of meat and poultry sold by our members is sourced locally so it's very much about recognising the considerable impact that they make to the economy.
"It's important that they have their own special day to do this.
"And 70p in every pound spent with a local independent retailer is recycled around the local economy, supporting farmers, local producers and town centres."
Secretary of State James Brokenshire was among those supporting the initiative.
He said small businesses could lead the charge in regenerating the region's town centres.
"It is all about celebrating the jobs, investment and services Northern Ireland's independent retailers provide.
"It also encourages the next generation of retail entrepreneurs, who are so vital to the future of our local economy," he said.