Independent pet retailer Not Just Pets has urged politicians to help small businesses to survive on the high street by providing realistic business rates.
Janine Tozer, owner of the award-winning Bath-based business, said: “As a company we have worked very hard in 2015 to keep our business going with downsizing one shop, revamping another and we are in the process of renegotiating the lease and getting ready for a revitalisation of our third store.
“We are also looking closely at our website and the best way forward as a multi-channel business.
“In-store trade has been very unpredictable throughout the year and we are delighted to still be here as an independent company trading on the high street, although it has not been easy.
“Our main problems are high business rates (hence the downsize), parking problems for customers and online competition.”
Janine says independent stores need to offer something more than their rivals by giving customers a real, tangible, worthwhile shopping experience.
“If we cannot compete on price, we must compete on service. We offer free local delivery to compensate for the parking issues and we offer the best possible customer service, a strong knowledge base and range of products and the ability to 'get something in quickly' to help compete with online competitors.
“The UK does much more shopping online now than it has ever done before and e-commerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe, with around 15% of sales in the UK done online. Black Friday was a prime example of this where there was an unexpected huge surge of online sales, unexpected empty high street and shopping mall stores and an alleged 62% increase of online sales took place between midnight and 7am, compared with 2014. Food for thought there!
“We need supplier backing and support, with an understanding of the problems and challenges of independent traders and we definitely need the Government's help with realistic business rates and other incentives to drive folks back to the high street.”