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A Letter From Peter: Independents' Day 2024

This year, Independents’ Day weekend falls on the weekend of 6th and 7th July and gives us the perfect opportunity to celebrate the important role independent retailers and convenience stores play on our high streets and in our local communities across the UK. 

The plight of retail crime has been rightly pushed to the top of the news agenda over the past 12 months, led brilliantly by the Co-op and Nisa. Our teams at Nisa hear on a weekly basis from retailers dealing with the ongoing challenge of shoplifting, and the impact that is having both financially and on their own wellbeing.  

Recently, I was saddened to watch footage of an attempted armed robbery at a Nisa store in Dunfermline, Scotland. On this occasion, brave store workers managed to apprehend the offender until the police could attend but we know this isn’t the case in the vast majority of incidents.  

We have called on tougher sanctions on criminals found guilty of retail crime and we would again call on the government following the general election to revisit the plans to introduce legislation to make attacks and assaults on shopworkers a standalone offence.  

The UK saw a 409% surge in shoplifting last year, reaching 5.6 million incidents. That amounted to 600 incidents of theft occurring every hour in 2023 – these numbers are terrible news for the sector. 
Among the wider retail sector, losses from theft almost doubled to £1.8bn in 2023, equalling to 45,000 incidents a day, according to the British Retail Consortium. 

The last few years have been immensely challenging for independent retailers, and certainly I know that Nisa’s retailers have gone above and beyond to support their local communities. The Independents’ Day weekend allows us to reflect on what an extraordinary part of the community independent retailers are to all our high streets. 

This past year we have celebrated 15 years of our Making a Difference Locally charity and I’m so proud of the £17 million that independent retailers have donated back into their local communities throughout that period. Last year, MADL helped retailers donate £925,000 and reach over 180,000 people –demonstrating the impact an independent retailer can have on the community.  

There are close to 50,000 convenience stores across the UK, all of which provide customers with a tailored blend of products to meet local demand. Independent retailers’ unique ability to adapt their offering to fit the wants and needs of their local community is a key attribute, particularly in today’s economic climate. 437,000 people work in convenience stores with over £9 billion paid in taxes into the national economy.  

I’ve been privileged to visit hundreds of stores over the past 12 months and despite the increased competition independents are facing on the high street, retailers are continuing to invest in their stores to provide an alternative shopping experience – something which can’t be replicated elsewhere. 

Yet there’s been no doubt in all those visits just how challenging it is for so many independent retailers. From energy costs to business rates, from rents to cost of living and consumer confidence, I’d argue that being an independent retailer has rarely been tougher, which is why I’m so committed to supporting our retail partners.  
The convenience sector has shown its resilience and ability to adapt during challenging periods before and I am confident that the high calibre of independent retailers this country boasts will be able to weather challenging times once again. 

We believe that the continued success of independent retailers is vital to creating a thriving, innovative, and sustainable retail environment.

That’s why at Nisa, we are absolutely committed to our mission to be the independent retailer’s partner of choice and would like to wish all independent retailers a happy Independents’ Day weekend. 

Yours sincerely, 

Peter Batt 

Managing Director, Nisa 

I am confident that the high calibre of independent retailers this country boasts will be able to weather challenging times once again.
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