American cousins teach Sunderland to shop small on Saturdays

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A WEARSIDE business community is backing a transatlantic initiative.

US shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna has suggested Britain should adopt its Small Business Saturday scheme, which has a set day to encourage people to shop with local, independent traders.

Figures suggest that American consumers aware of the promotion spent £3.4billion in small shops on the day last year.

Sunderland City Centre Traders Association (SCCTA), a group consisting of independent and national traders, would welcome such a scheme.

Committee member Giles McCourt said: “Independent and small businesses are vital to our economy and any initiative similar to Small Business Saturday would be welcomed by SCCTA and its members.

“Small businesses are often faced with many financial constraints and restrictions, especially when it comes to the marketing of their business, a problem not often associated with larger chains.

“A national promotion such as Small Business Saturday means that smaller businesses are given a marketing opportunity they would not normally have.”

SCCTA believe that the introduction of the initiative could not only encourage trade, but may also attract new businesses to the city.

The US shadow business secretary has suggested Saturday December 7, 2013, as the ideal date – as the Christmas shopping rush begins. Mr Umanna said: “We must do more to celebrate the contribution local, small independent businesses make to our economy and encourage people to buy from them.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, play a hugely important role in our communities and add to the unique character of each locality.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said it was an idea which would be considered by the UK Government.

Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk said: “We’re determined to offer practical support to our high streets, which is why we’ve doubled the amount of small business rate relief to new and smaller shops.

“This is one part of a multimillion-pound package of support to Town Teams and Portas Pilots up and down the country, including mentoring from retail experts and workshops to address the challenges they face.”

Twitter: @SunEchoSteven