Judith Cochrane MLA said: “The performance of our small business sector is crucial to the performance of the Northern Ireland economy as a whole. Therefore, we must do all that we can to support small businesses. In particular, town centres are battling against the changing nature of retail and consumerism in Northern Ireland, the pressure of which is becoming unbearable for many small businesses and retailers who are struggling to keep their doors open.
“One of the biggest challenges is online retailing, which has quadrupled over the past six years and which continues to rise. Our businesses and independent retailers, therefore, need to adapt to that trend. More importantly, they need to ensure that a trip to the high street is a positive, broader experience.
“Our small firms do not have the public profile and marketing budgets of large corporations, and they are unable to match the deeply discounted offers of the major retailers. Small Business Saturday is, therefore, an excellent way to celebrate the sector and support traders in showcasing their products and services.
“However, this is not just a shop local campaign. It is about highlighting the huge contribution that all our small businesses make to the Northern Ireland economy. The initiative has the potential to give exposure not just to small retailers but to hair salons, restaurants, travel agents, coffee shops, day spas etc. It is about supporting the butcher, the baker and the local dressmaker. Small Business Saturday can help to get the word out that these businesses are there.
“I would urge consumers to make a special effort to support as many small businesses as possible this Saturday 7th December and give them a much-needed boost this Christmas and into the New Year.”