Danny Boyle’s Olympic image of Britain will certainly lure the tourists back to ‘blighty’. What an amazing, if not flamboyantly costly, advertisement for our country? And the corresponding sentiment backed up by the British people has a created a tremendous wave of publicity for this ‘green and pleasant land’. According to social media and retail news, many retailers across the country have not experienced the upturn in footfall that was hoped for (footfall in West End shops last week was down 4.5 per cent) but there can be no doubt that London 2012 has been the best possible endorsement for Great Britain, better than anyone could have imagined which will help small British businesses.
So is now the time for British independent retailers to bask in the afterglow and keep the Union Flag flying high; for days, months, and dare I say years to come?
Well yes, it certainly is! As a ‘humble nation of shop-keepers’ we can be quite self-deprecating. We often fail to recognise our own ‘cool factor’. But Britain is cool, and our continental counterparts know this, that’s why any self-respecting Italian couldn’t possibly leave our shores without a Harrods shopping bag or an F&M tea cosy. That message has now been broadcast to well over one billion people worldwide, surely this is good news for British business? As VisitBritain suggests, the real boost to the industry will come in the months and years ahead. It believes that between 2011 and 2015, an extra 4.4 million overseas travellers will come to our shores, spending an extra £2.3bn. In the first five months of 2012, a record 4.58 million people came on holiday to Britain, with sharp rises in numbers from Thailand, South Korea, Brazil, South Africa and India. That’s a lot of people. That’s a lot of buying power.
These visitors will want a taste of Britain, and they’ll want to take a little piece of it home with them. So in fact this should be a boon for independent businesses – particularly those who know how to spot an opportunity. Whether it’s English sparkling wine, a fabulous food hamper or a cool British shopping bag, there are some really simple ways to turn the products you already stock in to a gift fit for a team GB medal winner. Visit our Cool Britannia collection for some great hamper and gift packaging ideas.
With pop-up shops, farmers markets and specialty retailers & producers struggling to compete with the multiples, the government does appear to finally be recognising that the lifeblood of our economy, not least our community lies in small businesses. Just look at some of the projects gaining momentum: following the Portas Review into high streets, a National Markets Day and Love Your Local Fortnight have helped over a thousand aspiring entrepreneurs try out their business ideas at over 300 markets. 27 town centres across the UK have now been selected as ‘Portas Pilots’ tasked with coming up with new ideas to breathe life into unused high streets. Countless associations like the Plunkett Foundation are finding fresh initiatives for supporting community shop networks – and they’re surviving more than the chains themselves. And with the Small Business Rate Relief in England having been doubled for two-and-a-half years, you never know, maybe the future does indeed look golden.
- The PopUp Britain scheme, now open for business: Is this the future of British Retail?
- Uhh oh! Sainsbury’s is moving in: can your customers taste the difference?
- The do’s and don’ts of local farmer’s markets