So that’s it. Credit crunch Christmas 2008 is over, the decorations are back in their boxes and the administrations came as fast as new year resolutions fell by the wayside.

Watching TV reports you’d think the whole retail sector is about to collapse. But that’s not the case. It may be tough as hell out there but it’s not the end.

We need to fight back against the doom-mongers and we are doing that through the Backing UK Retail campaign alongside Retail Week. As Winston Churchill said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” It’s time to stand up and tell the country what’s good about UK retail.

There were always going to be retail collapses but the failure of such a high-profile and loved name as Woolworths threw the industry into the spotlight. “If Woolies can go, anyone can,” thought business reporters.

But similarly nostalgia-tinted names have disappeared from the high street before – think Littlewoods and C&A – and UK retail has survived. The truth is that Woolies had become an outdated format struggling to reinvent itself and sadly it didn’t manage to in time.

It’s time to banish the negativity and to look at how we can support and encourage each other, rather than let those around us talk us further into recession or browbeat our staff and customers into despair.

It’s time to celebrate success and to exploit opportunities. Most importantly it’s time to change how we, and those around us, think about UK retail. To quote Churchill again: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

Backing UK Retail is our industry forum to make that difference. It is a dedicated website to show support for UK retail – and what a great start with Gordon Brown and Sir Terry Leahy last week – which will encapsulate everything we are good at and provide a common voice for everyone involved. We may have allowed ourselves to be talked into a recession, but now it’s time to talk ourselves out.

At Barracuda Search we are putting our money where our mouth is and urge others to do the same. We have announced an initiative whereby if a UK retailer engages our services we are prepared to take the final third of our fee in its shares or use that fee to buy shares in the company.
The UK is renowned as a nation of shopkeepers and for standing up to and smiling in the face of adversity. In recent months we have been beaten down. Now we need to get back on our feet and fight. As Churchill also said: “Never, never, never, never give up.”