Shadow business secretary wants to copy US initiative to encourage shoppers to use local, independent shops
Britain should adopt a US initiative to encourage shoppers to use small local shops, the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, has suggested.
President Barack Obama visited an independent bookshop on this year’s “Small Business Saturday”, which has taken place on the first weekend after Thanksgiving in the US since 2010. Umunna has written to credit card firm American Express – which devised and sponsors the initiative – to ask if it could bring it to the UK.
He has suggested 7 December – the start of the Christmas shopping rush – as part of efforts to revive flagging confidence among small-shop owners, with more and more contemplating selling up.
US figures suggest consumers aware of the promotion, which is heavily plugged on social media and enjoys celebrity support, spent £3.4bn in small shops on the day in 2012.But critics complain it is simply a marketing device for the sponsor.
“We must do more to celebrate the contribution local, small, independent businesses make to our economy and encourage people to buy from them,” Umunna said.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, play a hugely important role in our communities and add to the unique character of each locality.
“Establishing a Small Business Saturday in the UK, a concept which has enjoyed considerable success in the US, would provide a small but simple and effective way to celebrate local, small businesses and encourage more people to buy from them on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
“A Small Business Saturday in the UK is something all local authorities, whatever their political persuasion, could support and promote. Labour administrations in Manchester, Birmingham and London are already supporting our national campaign to establish a Small Business Saturday in the UK.”