It’s the Walk Shop theatre of ideas

This is the moment when MSYS insiders are not only working on National Independents’ Week – June 1st and racing towards us like an express train – which is now an established and unique marketing and promotional activity in the wholesale/independent calendar. It is a sales booster and part of the industry fabric. But another priority calls.

Campaigners have long been challenged to ‘extend the season’ and to create another footfall driver. To meet this challenge, National Walk Shop Day (NWSD) will become another focus on the independent c-store, newsagent and rural shop on September 16, planned for a single day in the pattern set when NIW was first launched in 2004 and then later extended.

If NWSD meets its objectives, it too could become a week of intensive positive promotion for the wholesale/independent sector beating off the doom-laden gloom produced by forecasts of demise and shrinkage.

At the February meeting of the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG), which drives MSYS and is the industry’s theatre of ideas, a range of Walk Shop activities was discussed. These will be published when supportive independent retailers, wholesalers and suppliers have digested the new opportunities made available by NWSD.

== MULTIPLES WILL ADMIT NWSD IS OURS ==

The scope of the day provides local stores with a dramatic selling weapon which covers environmental issues, the saving of petrol costs and cutting food expenditure. These three boxes can all be ticked legitimately with ownership by independents which is exclusive and cannot be claimed by the giant superstores.

As successful as the multiples are – and they have their own worthy eco-friendly claims – they will be the first to admit that their dependence on car usage linked to weekly or bi-weekly visits by most consumers gives the local store all the advantages embraced by the MSYS Walk Shop concept.

The question remains: can wholesalers and independents grasp to the full the opportunity to promote localness as a way of helping the environment by reducing carbon emissions, saving local shoppers’ petrol costs and avoiding wasting food and more money by encouraging those same local shoppers to buy groceries just in time on a daily basis to meet family needs?

== The objectives for MSYS to achieve in connection with NWSD are ==

:

(1) To ensure that every cash and carry and delivered to retail buying office and depot manager has now entered the date of September 16 in the promotional and marketing calendar and

(2) To ensure that every independent retailer, especially those who have learned that NIW works for them, has entered the date in his or her diary and is already thinking ‘NWSD’.

== PRAG THE THINK TANK ==

The concept of driving footfall by maximising the retailer’s involvement in the community has become the DNA of PRAG, the body which has successfully created NIW as a marketing celebration of the local shop which did not exist before MSYS.

Walk Shop as a concept is based on community involvement by the independent retailer. The Federation of Wholesale Distributors invented the now ubiquitous ‘community’ concept in 2004 when it launched MSYS in the absence of any positive marketing campaign promoting the community values of the local store. FWD is proud that the concept has been copied elsewhere as it should be.

But MSYS remains the practical helper of the independent with PRAG coming up with a stream of ideas and creative themes which have proved they will increase sales in local shops where they are implemented.

NWSD is another PRAG development supported by key players in a marketplace which needs to harness all the marketing brainpower at its disposal. This will supplement the aggressive and wide-ranging promotional support provided to retailers by individual wholesalers and suppliers.

Meanwhile work on NIW 09 goes on. The first publication of the year from the campaign is the new What’s On, which describes the broad programme with examples of successes from 2008. It is downloadable from the website www.myshopisyourshop.co.uk which has now been developed into a gold mine of practical help for local stores. No talk the talk, but lots of walk the walk.

== DON’T BLAME THE GIANTS FOR WASTE ==

There is a tendency among militants in the industry to put all the ills of the market on the doorstep of the giant multiples. They tend to forget that millions of consumers are loyal multiple shoppers – the same shoppers on whom local independents also rely.

It is not the fault of the multiples that consumers often buy too much food on their big shopping trips – about one third of which is thrown away or wasted in one way or another. This is an ingrained habit by consumers bingeing on low prices, bogofs and wide and deep ranging – all of which are legitimate tactics and are known to be used by wholesalers.

The Government says the average UK household throws away 18% of all food purchased. But, scandalously, this figure rises to 27% where families are involved.

NWSD on September 16 gives our industry a huge opportunity to begin to inform families that they can avoid the scandal of food waste by making more trips to the local shop. Government statistics say that an average family can save pound;11 a week by buying more groceries just in time.

This educational process must begin in the independent sector. The retailer must be helped to inform the shopper. Consumers who are hurting under the impact of the meltdown in the economy must be informed. They will not need to be told twice.

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=== Walk shop key facts ===

It’s unlikely that Government or the multiples will be promoting the eco-credentials of local shops. But independents can use their interface with their local community to begin the educational process. Some key facts:

l On average customers walk 0.93 kilometres to and from home per visit to the local store.

l By not using the car each walking shopper does NOT produce an average of 0.12 kilograms of CO2 emissions per trip.

l On average an independent store will make 445 transactions a day.

l Average total carbon NOT created by shoppers per local store on an average day is 53.4 kg.

l Food waste which ends up in landfill sites produces methane – 25 times more powerful and destructive as CO2.

l Wastage of food which could have been eaten produces 15 million tons of carbon emissions.

l 60% of all dumped food is untouched.

l Government says pound;9bn of food wasted each year is avoidable.

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