Britian’s community shops are preparing to hold their own celebrations, including a brand new awards ceremony, during Co-operatives Fortnight.
The second annual Community Shops Fortnight will take place from the June 15th-29th, overlapping with Co-operatives Fortnight, which runs from June 26th to July 6th.
Last year over 100 community shops across the UK took part, using branded marketing materials and hosting everything from community barbecues and coffee mornings to a clay shoot.
Even more are expected to take part this year. The programme includes the official opening of Hurst Green Community Shop, a co-operative in rural Sussex which is converting a former church into a grocer and drop-in centre, and a summer market featuring local food and crafts at Hampstead Norreys Community Shop in Berkshire.
This year’s events will feature the first ever Community Shop Awards ceremony, which will celebrate the achievements of village shops and highlight good practice. Three businesses have been shortlisted in each of six categories — contributing to community life, rewarding volunteers, co-operation in action, creative display, retail innovation and better business.
The closing date has passed, and the Foundation says the response has been “fantastic”. The ceremony will take place at the Foundation’s National Networking Event and AGM, at Bicester Hotel in Oxfordshire on June 26th.
Mike Perry of Plunkett Foundation, the organisation behind Community Shops Fortnight, says: “For shops this is as an opportunity to promote what they do and to thank their volunteers, customers and suppliers. The fortnight will celebrate the success of the 309 communities across the UK that saved their village shop through community ownership.
Peter Couchman, the Foundation’s Chief Executive, adds: “In a climate that’s seen commercial village shops close at a rate of around 400 per year, rural communities have rallied round and saved their shop from closure, reopening as a community-owned and run enterprise. But that’s not the only thing they should be celebrating. These 309 communities have gone on to build a committed team and engage with everyone in their community to keep their shop up and running, delivering a vital community service day in, day out.
“The second Community Shops Fortnight will mark the hard work, commitment and pride that ensures a community-owned shop succeeds long after the excitement of open day celebrations has passed.”
As part of the Fortnight, Plunkett Foundation will publish ‘A Better form of Business — Community-Owned Village Shops’, its annual report into the performance of the community shop sector in 2012. The report shows that community-owned shops continue to grow and be resilient in challenging times. In 2012, 25 community-owned shops opened, along with four co-operative pubs, and 924 communities contacted Plunkett for support. No community shops closed.
Community shops currently employ 945 staff and rely on 7,796 volunteers. They have 51,510 members, offer 174 Post Offices services and 130 cafes and carry stock from 6,666 suppliers of goods and services. Average gross sales are up by 13.1 per cent to £48,711,601 and like-for-like sales from 2011 show an increase of 2.9 per cent, in an environment that has seen a stalling of growth for large retailers in the UK.
• To find out more, visit: www.plunkett.co.uk