I have been out and about in Llanelli Town Centre talking to local independent shopkeepers together with representatives from Usdaw the shopworkers’ trade union, who have just launched a campaign to ‘save our shops’ and push for ways to create a more level playing field between our high street shops and online retail.
We all know the huge challenges that our town centres face and there are no easy answers. So I welcome the recent launch by Usdaw of their strategy to ‘Save our Shops, ’ as we all need to work together to find solutions.
I called in on a number of our local independent shops with Usdaw rep Peter Evans to discuss the problems they are facing. It was particularly worrying that whilst everyone welcomed the huge influx of visitors, some 27,000, I am told, to Llanelli on the last Saturday in June, when we had the Armed Forces Day parade and an 80s day in town, this had not actually increased sales for some shopkeepers.
We see big online retailers raking in profits, whilst local shops struggle to make enough money to pay all the bills, so we urgently need to look at ways to ensure that big online retailers pay their fair share of UK taxes, as well as looking at how best to support our town centre shops.