Recent years have been really hard on our town centres. The recession, rising rents, online shopping and out-of-town retail parks mean that our town centres look very different to the way they did even ten years ago.
But there is hope. Lots of it, in fact. I only need to wander down the hill to Bedford town centre to see the new ideas that are appearing in my town, including the Bedpop pop up shop where each week a new retail or art project is being piloted.
Our local indie businesses desperately need our support though. Just look at the impact spending your money at independent retailers has:
As the infographic says, a shift of 10% of your spending creates a huge impact in your local area.
Over the last few months I’ve made an effort to spend more of my cash locally and actually I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve stepped away from Costa and bought my coffee in some fabulous local coffee shops. Try going to the edges of your town centre and you’ll find some hidden gems like deli’s, old fashioned hardware/kitchen stores and if you’re really lucky a bookshop. I’ve also signed up to a local vegetable box scheme which means my cash goes to local farmers, my veg is fresher and tastier and I save both money and packaging (compared to the veg from supermarkets). Many people assume that shopping at independent retailers is more expensive, but I’ve found this is often not true.
Our local magazine, The Bedford Clanger, introduced me to the idea of becoming a ‘hometown tourist’ and I’m looking forward to doing more of this over the summer. Why not give it a go yourself?
Infographic by localindieretailers.co.uk