An independent sector mover and shaker has urged high street shops to take more responsibility for generating and maintaining footfall and has called for greater inter-business co-operation.

The call comes from Clare Rayner, founder of the Support for Independent Retail campaign, who kicks off the Celebrate an Independent Christmas event this Saturday [29 November] which will run over the festive shopping period.

The event will see participating independents on many of England’s high streets invite children to decorate a picture of a Christmas tree, which is provided on a map of local retailers.

The shop rewards them with a small treat when they complete their tree and in some areas they will be entered into a prize draw.

Rayner, dubbed the retail champion,  told The Grocer the Christmas campaign was merely a catalyst to get customers back involved with the local community.

“The campaign might put people over the threshold but it is down to retailers to start a conversation with the potential customer to showcase what they have to offer.”

No purchases are required to collect stickers. The purpose is to highlight the “great customer experience” they can find in smaller shops, increasing the chance of future visits and recommendations to others.

“What happens next is the responsibility of business to maintain that conversation,” she said.

Independents needed to co-operate more with each other as well as chains such as Boots and Costa which were “very much in the high street and supportive of it”, Rayner said.

“Companies like that are well invested in the local community and I’m confident they would want to collaborate to get the buzz back into the high street because they would get benefit, too.”

The Christmas event comes at a time when footfall on the UK’s high streets continues to drop, according to BRC/Springboard.

“Research by the Centre for Local Independent Strategies and the Federation of Small Businesses has shown that for every pound spent locally, between 50p to 70p will be put back into the local economy. If that pound is spent out of town, only 5p trickles back,” Rayner said.

Celebrate an Independent Christmas was about educating consumers on where their money went and how their community could benefit if they chose to support their local indies, she added.