The team behind National Independents’ Week is putting together a plan of action aimed at shoring up the Christmas trading period for independent retailers, which is threatened by the twin challenges of the credit crunch and the supermarkets price war.

The Federation of Wholesale Distributors PR Action Group, which created the My Shop is Your Shop campaign for independent retailers, will meet at the end of the month to discuss promotional and marketing plans to help retailers in the run up to Christmas.

Details of the campaign have yet to be thrashed out, but the alliance of wholesalers, suppliers and retailers is likely to recommend retailers support festive celebrations such as carol services and school plays in their communities. This would be backed up by exclusive promotional activity from suppliers for independent retailers. 

The focus stemmed from the idea that independents were too busy at Christmas to compete effectively.

“The old mantra that independents are too busy at Christmas to bother about promotional activity and so on is a philosophy that we will bury once and for all,” said My Shop is Your Shop chairman Alan Toft. “The MSYS independent retailer focus group is fully behind the concept of community activities at Christmas. I hope we can motivate the independent sector to be too busy being involved in the community instead.”

Toft said the credit crunch combined with the supermarket price war represented the biggest challenge he could remember.

“Its a double-whammy that means the approaching Christmas trading peak assumes greater importance than ever,” he said. “We now have a body of evidence which shows how involvement in the community – the founding principle of MSYS – works. It can increase sales.”

He revealed products included in this year’s National Independents’ Day coupon feature in the Daily Mirror and Daily Record achieved sales increases of 15% in local shops during the period.