Local loyalty schemes can help boost high street trading in independent stores, a study has shown.

Researchers for the Local Loyalty report, commissioned by Action for Market Towns, reviewed a selection of loyalty card and reward schemes  - such as the Pool Card in Welshpool and Shop 10 in Cockermouth - in use in market towns across the UK.

The results suggested approximately one in five people were cardholders in the areas surveyed, and in some localities as many as 50% of locals held a loyalty or discount card.

In the Welshpool and Mid-Wales area almost one in two held a discount card supported by 170 businesses, the largest number of participating businesses found for any region in the study. The report found “a thriving business community was created” by the scheme.

It is hoped the report’s conclusions will provide insight for market town retailers looking to adopt similar systems for the first time, as well as helping towns which have already implemented loyalty schemes to develop their strategy.

Hannah Bowden, author of the report, said: “Making a local loyalty scheme work isn’t easy but loyalty cards are a catalyst for change that are sweeping our towns and levelling the playing field between independent and national retailers.

“They are a positive way forward in uncertain times and offer our market towns a fighting chance,” she added.

The research was published to coincide with Independents’ Day, a campaign encouraging shoppers to buy at least one item from an independent store yesterday, July 4.