Retail NI is once again delighted to support the Retailer of the Year category at this year’s Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in partnership with Ulster Bank.
These are challenging times for our retail sector, with the pandemic taking down many big household names in our retail sector along with many local independent traders. But despite this, better times do lay ahead for what will be a very different retail sector and high street in the post pandemic economy.
Whether your business is open or temporarily closed, the judges in this year’s awards want to see as many entries as possible from retail leaders, demonstrating how they have led the transformation of their business in this rapid period of change.
Many retailers have shown considerable innovation during this lockdown, getting better at digital and many independent food retailers strengthening their role as a lifeline, ensuring food and other vital products are available for vulnerable members of our community.
So, what attributes might the Retailer of the Year have?
Firstly, 2021 we will see the creation of more confident and dynamic independent retailers, who will be at the cutting edge of a new retail sector, leading toward 21st century high streets. These are retail entrepreneurs who are innovators and trendsetters.
Consumer behaviour is rapidly changing, and people want something different from their high streets. I believe smaller, more agile and tech-savvy retailers who can adapt to this tidal wave of change will not just survive, but thrive.
To stand out in this year’s awards, you will need to show how your business has made a difference during the pandemic, setting out your community role and advancing the well-being agenda. Another important factor for applicants is to demonstrate their commitment to sourcing local and supporting local producers and suppliers.
For our annual Independents’ Day campaign, Retail NI commissioned research, by Perceptive Insight, which revealed that 59% of consumers surveyed used their local stores for a basket food top-up shop up to three times a week, and also showed that 71% spent between £20 and £500 on a single visit to local, independently owned stores.
The report also revealed the biggest deciding factor for visiting an independent store was to support local businesses (62%) as well as better customer service (32%) and the convenience of local shops (36%).
Of every pound spent with a local independent retailer, 70p is recycled around the local economy, supporting local farmers, producers and manufacturers. The Retailer of the Year needs to successfully demonstrate their commitment to the local supply chain.
Retail NI members have always championed localism, priding themselves in supporting local suppliers, producers and manufacturers.
This is why we want to see localism ‘on steroids’ along with the reimaging of our high streets as destinations where residents and visitors can dwell as they work, rest and play as the central policy priorities of the Executive’s recovery plan to drive future post-pandemic prosperity.
Localism is not just about supporting independent retailers — it is also about empowering people and communities to reshape and repurpose their local villages, towns and cities and above else reinvigorate the leadership model.
In short, to a be successful 21st century retailer is not just about being a well-run and profitable business — it is much more. It’s about localism, community and wellbeing.