Local heroes: The retailers benefiting from the rise of localism

Avtar Sidhu, known as Sid, has won hordes of new customers at his Budgens store in Kenilworth.

Since the lockdown, people have taken to shopping where they live and local retailers have come to the fore. Many have adapted, served and won loyal customers over the past eight months. Retail Week highlights some of the thriving businesses that hold lessons for all of retail.

Since lockdown was imposed in March, in its aftermath shopping habits have changed beyond recognition.

As people worked from home and avoided busy city centres online retail grew in importance, but so too did local retail as consumers discovered, or reacquainted themselves, with the shops on their doorsteps.

Like their bigger counterparts, independent neighbourhood retailers faced challenges but have found ways to adapt and build on newfound shopper interest to retain custom over the longer term.

Among the biggest beneficiaries were food shops – not just convenience giants such as the Co-op, but local c-stores, butchers, bakers and pharmacists. 

Other local players have also managed not just to keep their heads above water but to cement and extend local appeal. They have done this by doing everything from maintaining availability to standing out for their service standards and, like their giant counterparts, switching into the potential of online.

In May, grocery market monitor Kantar recorded sales growth of 63% at independent and symbol food stores. While that rate of growth has moderated, it was still almost 20%, according to the latest data released earlier in October.

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