The Importance of Local Retailers

My 1,900 Twitter followers will know that on average I retweet about 10 tweets a day which relate to local retailers. I do not use all these retailers. Some sell things that I am personally not interested in and for others I will go and try different services and products. But I support them all because they in their turn support my community.

Why do I say that? Because they help in so many ways:

1. They make Liverpool and more locally to home, Allerton Road, a more interested and varied place. So many places I go to are now soulless. A good retail centre is not composed of 2 Costas, 1 WH Smiths, 1 Coop travel etc, etc. These places are not home towns but clone towns. They add nothing to the soul or spirit but churn out repeated products and menus with a chilling roboticism. When I go to shops like Voglio I can see some really interesting stuff which I have a pleasure in buying and I know that people will be fascinated to receive.

2. They have long food and delivery miles. Much of what they sell comes from all over the World and unnecessarily so. I have no problem at with the concept of international trade, we cannot grow cotton or coffee in Liverpool, but it should not be for everything. When I go into Clarks the Butchers on Allerton Road I know exactly what meat I am getting and they know exactly where it came from. I will never eat horse meat from Clarks on Allerton Road unless they choose to sell it and I choose to buy it. This unnecessary international trade creates food and water shortage sin developing countries; creates job losses in developed countries and is a major cause of environment degradation.

3. They buy ethically. Look at the recent scandals of many hundreds of people dying in Pakistan in dangerous sweat shops created to serve the needs of the ‘Brands.’ Small shops have a much better record of ethical buying than the Major chains.

4. They keep profit in our local communities. A local retailer pays their council tax in Liverpool their business profit tax in the UK and their personal council tax in Liverpool or Merseyside. The profit they generate stays here and does not go to swell the coffers of remote financiers and faceless fat cats.

Next week I am hosting the first meeting of a new Trader’s Association for Allerton Road, Penny Lane and Smithdown Place where a number of retailers, mostly women entrepreneurs, are coming together to promote the Road and by doing so promote their own business.

Next month Liverpool Independent are launching a discount card which will give a range of changing discounts at 35 shops throughout the City with more joining all the time. Erica and I have already applied for my card.

So dear Reader let me ask you three questions?

Have you ever moaned about the decline of your local shopping centre?
Do you use local shops?
Do you support and promote local shops
Is your money in a building society or a bank?
Do you think about issues like food miles and the problems of sweat shops?

I ask these questions because these are things that we should be asking and if we did our local neighbourhood and district centres would be a much better place.

Erica and I use our local shops and services providers unless there is no suitable product or service provided when we turn to international brands and companies. We keep our small amount of savings in a building society. We use our spending power to make a difference.

Will you do the same?

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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1 Response to The Importance of Local Retailers

  1. Anon says:

    I have never been to Liverpool. However, my local city centres are full of clones and cheap shops pound shops. I blame my local council for driving out the small shop keepers because of parking charges. The Council made huge investment in CCTV to catch motorist, but the CCTV is never available for catching real criminals. So there is resentment against the council.

    Once, a struggling shop keepers sells-up, a new shop keeper will turn up who can operate on low margins (so they don’t have the money for refurbishments). In my area, this problem started at least 15 years ago. The Council still continue to expand residents parking zone. I don’t have a plumbers shop in my residential zone, but there is one 2 miles away, but the council expect me to pay £2.50 (minimum charge) for parking. I am forced to go to B&Q, which has free parking and I am not stressed about returning to my car late.

    If a struggling shop keeper, is making low profits of £14,000 per year, he might as-well shut up and go work for someone else. He does n’t have money to improve the shop or advertise…

    The Internet has added its toll on local shops.

    You don’t mention the issue of Sunday trading. Most small businesses, can’t afford to do. And they need their rest too!

    When new shopping centre open up, they should be asked to keep at least 35% of shops for independent retailers. This way new shops can open up or at least have a chance….

    To open a new shop requires a huge investment. A friend opened up a saloon and it cost her £250,000. Her home is at risk. Given house prices, if she fails, she looses her home. There is no relief for new businesses from business rates.

    The Tax system is unfair, if my friend turn over a small profit, she pays the same tax rate as someone working for a small job. However, the government does not recognise entrepreneurs, may well be working 14 hours a day or that they are risking their home.

    Amazon government grants to build a huge new warehouse, but it seems unfair as they don’t pay any tax.

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