Radio coup broadcasts local buying message

The trend of shoppers increasing their visits to local stores was promoted to millions of radio listeners when leading wholesalers Steve Fox and Steve Parfett were interviewed on key BBC radio programmes.

Organised by the FWD My Shop is Your Shop campaign as part of the National Independents’ Week celebrations, they were both live on air as reports of Gordon Brown’s emergency cabinet re-shuffle were emerging, boosting total listener figures.

Steve Fox, Booker’s head of Premier and retail development, interviewed on Radio 4’s Today programme, said consumers were returning to local shops because they recognised they offered value.

He instanced value lines and competitive wine multi-buys as examples. Denying that local stores could not be competitive, he added that families were on average wasting £11 a week on throwing away food, something they could avoid by buying locally.

Parfett’s managing director Steve Parfett was interviewed on Radio 5 Live. Challenged on how local shops could survive in a recession, he said: “We as a business are doing rather well and the local independent retail sector is showing an increase in sales of 6.1%, which is a bigger increase than the multiples.”

When it was suggested that shoppers were just using local shops for top-ups, he made the point: “More people are shopping locally and are spending more carefully. There is a resurgence in local shopping for groceries – proper old fashioned groceries. People are making their own meals again, rather than buying ready meals.”

Challenged again on price competitiveness by the interviewer, Parfett said that the superstores price superiority was “an illusion” and that consumers could find real value day after day at small shops.

After the broadcasts, MSYS chairman Alan Toft commented: “The story of the return to local shops has been confined to the internal trade media and we believed that it was time to use NIW to get the story out to consumers via key media.

“It is yet to be confirmed but it is estimated that more than three million people would be listening to these programmes.”

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