MP expresses interest in plan to promote more local retailers

Britain should adopt a US 
initiative to encourage shoppers to use small, local shops, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has suggested.

President Barack Obama visited an independent book shop on last year’s “Small Business Saturday”, which has taken place on the first weekend after Thanksgiving in the US since 2010.

Now Mr Umunna has written to credit card giant American Express – which devised and sponsors the initiative – to ask if the same scheme could be introduced to UK high streets.

He has suggested 7 December – the start of the Christmas shopping rush – as part of efforts to revive flagging confidence among small-shop owners, with more and more contemplating selling up.

US figures suggest US consumers aware of the promotion, which enjoys celebrity support, spent £3.4 billion in small shops on the day this year.

“We must do more to celebrate the contribution local, small independent businesses make to our economy and encourage people to buy from them,” the shadow business secretary said. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, play a huge role in our communities and add to the unique character of each locality.

“Establishing a Small Business Saturday in the UK, a concept which has enjoyed considerable success in the US, would provide a small but simple and effective way to celebrate local small businesses and encourage more people to buy from them on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.”

JOE CHURCHER