The case for independent retailers to get more support was made today ahead of Black Friday, when their shops remain closed but many larger rivals and online giants prepare for a sales surge.
Non-essential retailers are not able to reopen physical stores until next week, but online retailers and brands with a digital presence can take part online in the annual discounting event starting Friday. Some companies have been running Black Friday deals throughout November.
The event is set to be hugely popular owing to pent-up demand following much of the high street being closed for weeks.
Data from KPMG this week showed one in seven Brits are planning to spend more during the Black Friday sales period than they did last year.
Michael Lassman, London chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Many small retailers lack the finances to have a dedicated member of staff to operate their online presence, whereas large retailers will have teams to set up and manage theirs. It’s not a level playing field and every small business needs the support of all their existing and potential customers, making this a really necessary time to concentrate on shopping locally.”
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Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: “Being closed for the whole of November is bad enough, but then having to deal with Black Friday being dominated by large chains and internet companies adds salt to the wound.”
Goodacre added: “Whilst many indies have increased their digital presence, none of them can compete with large chains on Black Friday and so will lose out even more with not being able to do offers in store.”
A number of smaller firms on the high street have called for an extension to the business rates holiday, due to expire at the end of March.
Graham Davis at Greenwich’s Casbah Records said the record shop would like to see a continued rates holiday, “plus any lifting of trading hours would be a big help”.
Linda Pilkington, founder of Mayfair-based perfume retailer Ormonde Jayne, said small independent firms have to prioritise using social media and emails to advertise home delivery offers to shoppers, as well as offers that will be be available in store once they reopen. She would like to see the rates holiday extended.
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