When it comes to community, the local store is top dog. When the Walk Shop idea was created by the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) in 2007, the mainspring for the concept came from the green lobby within the committee, which at the time was urging the industry to provide bags for life for independent retailers to sell to their customers – now part and parcel of the sector’s inventory.
Green enthusiasts pointed out that as petrol costs soared people would save money by ditching the car – that was save number one. Fewer car journeys meant a potentially substantial reduction in carbon emissions – save number two. ‘Think global, shop local’ was adopted as the theme.
But as the financial storm clouds gathered in early 2008 it became clear that the local shop could become an essential provider of food and drink to local communities where penny-wise families, nervous of the big spend at the superstore, would turn to buying just in time to meet daily needs.
This in turn would prevent over-buying at superstores leading to food being thrown away – Government data says that the average family could save pound;11 a week by avoiding food wastage – and this point became save number three.
== INGRAINED CONSUMER HABIT ==
Commentators do not place the responsibility for over-buying at the door of the giant multiples. They are carrying out what every retailer of every size puts in place every day – temptations and signals urging the consumer to buy more and more.
The consumer can always say no, but there is an ingrained habit among many shoppers, a modern cultural development to shop until they drop which manifests itself in the supermarket in over buying food as in fashion and frippery.
All this emanated from discussions at PRAG which were later distilled in what became the MSYS Walk Shop strategy. The strength of the carbon saving idea was tested in independent shops in the autumn of 2008 where consumers documented data showing how far they had walked to the store and this enabled MSYS to calculate just how much carbon had NOT been produced by their shopping trip.
Retailer members of PRAG reported from the front line that local people were visiting their stores more frequently to buy for immediate needs. Subsequently, wholesalers and the IGD confirmed that local shop visits were increasing in frequency enabling some wholesalers to report, in their trading updates, better than expected results despite the recession.
All these positives are exclusive to the territory occupied by the independent retailer. Superstores depend on car borne customers. They cannot claim any personal carbon reduction credentials as far as their customers are concerned and they are not the natural destination for daily needs – factors they will freely admit.
== THE OBJECTIVE OF NWSD ==
Given that one of the most efficient forms of communication between the local independent newsagent, c-store and rural shop owner is that which takes place in the shop, conversationally and by means of point of sale, the first objective of NWSD is to encourage the retailer and his staff to put over the money and carbon saving benefits and values of shopping locally.
It is deliberately a one-day focus creating a generic platform for a co-ordinated national day of action. Landmark Wholesale broke the ice in 2008 with its award-winning campaign pointing out the savings housewives can achieve by shopping locally.
By using the generic MSYS platform and providing ideas for retailers to adapt and adopt, NWSD takes the concept to every independent retailer in the UK, assisted by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents with its paid up membership of over 18,000 and the 7,500 family businesses covered by the Rural Shops Alliance.
=== THINK TANK – THEMES FOR NWSD ===
With three months to go before the MSYS National Walk Shop Day on Lottery Wednesday, September 16, the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) is building a menu of ideas which local stores could adopt, adapt or amend to help them get their message across to the community – a message of saving money by cutting petrol costs and avoiding food waste by buying for daily needs, plus helping to save the planet.
Ideas range from a poetry competition in local schools to sponsorship of a pop song competition for local amateur bands. Many of these ideas have come from independent retailers who are members of PRAG. The list is not complete by any means as other ideas are in the mix and as yet are not refined.
As a starter, retailers should download their own individual store poster from the campaign website www.myshopisyourshop.co.uk which will give them the amount of carbon NOT produced by customers walking to the shop. These are some ideas on the menu.
1. Retailer to sponsor a poster competition for the local school with prizes for the best window bill promoting the environmental and health benefits of walking to the local shop. Judged by the retailer and teachers.
2. Essay and poetry competitions for nbsp; schools sponsored by the local shop – poetry is very much on the national agenda and schools could be interested in this with modest prizes. Co-ordinate this activity with the local paper which would publish the best entries.
3. Aimed at schools, colleges, art schools, a competition for the best design and message to be printed on recyclable shopping bags using the Walk Shop theme.
4. Sponsor rewards for walking to the local shop on September 16, the winner is the person who clocks up the most walk-to-the-shop miles in a week and thus becoming the community’s Walk Shop Smallest Carbon Footprint Champion.
5. Tell the local paper, radio, TV what you are doing for your community on September 16. Ask the editor to support you, especially if you are a newsagent or c-store selling newspapers – their paper!
6. You have three months to do this – alert your MP to the day for a photo opportunity, and /or the Mayor, councillors, local personalities, Green enthusiasts and so on.
7. Walkies – yes it is very suitable day for a walkies for your local dog lovers.