Over the past week in particular, we've seen how closely retailers are connected to their neighbourhoods, says the British Retail Consortium.
There are few businesses more local than retail – local stores, local jobs, local customers – so the government's Big Society principles and the general drive towards greater localism are significant for our sector.
Over the past week in particular, we've seen how closely retailers are connected to their neighbourhoods. The destruction and its effects reiterate how vital the work of the BRC is, making sure the valuable role retail plays at the heart of communities is recognised by the government.
Proactive engagement in, and support for, localities is central to the Big Society. Retailers were doing 'big society' before they knew that's what it was called – investing in the communities where they are based and where their staff live.
Retailers have been involved in volunteering and outreach programmes for years. Whether it's releasing staff to volunteer on local projects or raising money in-store for local and national charities, the sector has always tried to use its unique position to make a difference to people's lives. BRC members commit significant funds, effort, enthusiasm and time supporting local initiatives – both as businesses but also by getting behind the passion and commitment demonstrated by staff on the shop floor. Unsung contributions from retailers include work in prisons, helping with remedial reading, refurbishing local facilities and supporting local sports activities.
Retailers know that being active in local alliances is not only altruistic but also makes great business sense. Business improvement districts, town and city centre management companies, crime-reduction partnerships and local strategic partnerships have all seen retailers commit time, money and expertise to local areas. These schemes have a positive impact on communities and, in turn, they make local areas better places to live, work and do business.
All of this involvement in local causes is something we should be proud of as a sector, but it also makes recent events all the more upsetting. The fact the violence faced by many retailers came from within the communities they served was incomprehensible. Despite this, the sector will redouble its efforts to ensure high streets flourish and that retail and the jobs and services it provides remain available across the UK.
We're pleased the prime minister has announced some helpful short-term measures, but our high streets need urgent action which will support them in the long term too. We continue to work with the government to ensure our communities have the vibrant, well-kept and successful high streets they deserve.
Throughout recess, ePolitix.com will be focusing on a different policy theme each week. This week we are featuring articles with a focus on localism and the Big Society.