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Small Business Saturday


Small Business Saturday will take place for the sixth time in the UK this weekend. It’s all about celebrating smaller, independent brands, and encouraging consumers all over the country to buy local.

In our recent poll of 3,000 UK wide consumers, we found that just over 15% of monthly shopper spend in stores goes to local brands, and one in five people say that their most enjoyable in-store shopping trip has been at a local shop. Local stores, bars, and restaurants can help to make a shopping centre or high street unique, and provide an experience that  just can’t be replicated online.

So this year of all years, it’s important to celebrate the essential role that independent retailers play, and  that we do our bit to safeguard their future. I firmly believe that it will be the shopping destinations that offer both large, nationally-recognised brands alongside small independent retailers, that will truly flourish. Retail comes in all shapes and sizes, and consumers want access to the “must have” coat of the season in the same place as they buy a unique piece of jewellery, or enjoy a local delicacy.

Retail is a hugely challenging business right now, and only those who consistently deliver  a great offer in a convenient, high quality location, will succeed. It’s the local operators who are often positioned to provide that  piece of magic that really helps to differentiate a venue.

While the majority of our tenants are large, international  brands, at Hammerson we are always on the look-out for independents with the passion and flair to light up our space. From the fantastic Rodizio style Casa Brasil in Westquay, Southampton, to Bullring’s Not Dogs, the first vegetarian restaurant in our portfolio, we know how popular local brands can be.

We appreciate that opening a store can be a big decision, so work closely with local entrepreneurs  to make sure taking a space in one of our centres is the right decision for their business.  Our Mall General Managers and management teams, retail experts in their own right, are ideally placed to help  local operators to get the most appropriate location and size of unit. Indeed, start up retailers will often open a pop-up or take commercialisation space before committing to something more substantial.

So this weekend, why not visit an independent shop you’ve not been to before, or have a bite to eat at that intriguing local restaurant. Independent businesses are part of the fabric of our communities, and we should all do our bit to help them flourish.

My Top Three Independents to check out:

Sound Leisure pop-up, Victoria Leeds: Sound Leisure has been manufacturing high quality Jukeboxes in Yorkshire since 1978. Still family owned, Sound Leisure remain one of only two traditional Jukebox manufacturers in the World.

Gym+Coffee, Dundrum New athleisure clothing company Gym+Coffee, created by three Irish entrepreneurs who built the brand to encapsulate the active lifestyle they’d enjoyed in California and Australia, inspires its customers to ‘Make Life Richer’

Holy Moly Macaroni, Bullring & Grand Central A Harlem influenced soul food operator. Founded in 2012 by a group of English friends visiting New York, its Uptown Mac with truffle oil is not to be missed.