Independent retailers are much happier with their chosen symbol group than they were a year ago, new research has found.

Compiled by Him Shopper Research & Consulting, two-thirds (67%) of independents said they “felt like a valued customer of their symbol group”, up from just 57% last year.

Him quizzed 1,400 retailers who belong to the 10 biggest UK symbol operators and found that satisfaction had increased for the vast majority. “Virtually all symbol groups have seen a significant increase in their retailers’ satisfaction ratings as they continue to work hard to listen and respond to their needs,” said HIM communications director Katie Littler.

Littler suggested part of the increased satisfaction came from better engagement from symbol groups. Almost half (46%) the retailers surveyed now receive a monthly visit from a business development manager compared with 42% a year ago.

“Face-to-face interactions and personal relationships are still so important for retailers,” Littler said. “Most retailers are also feeling more confident about their symbol group’s knowledge of the market.”

However,retailers did say they wanted more support with utilising technology within their businesses, especially setting up and running websites and social media.

The majority also think their symbol groups offer competitive prices, both to trade and to end shoppers. Him said they also felt they were being offered increasingly relevant promotions - with three-quarters agreeing that promotional POS and support had improved. However, many want more variety in the products offered on promotion. Across the board, retailers are looking for fewer multi-buy and more single price-down promos.