The continuing importance of small traders to the commercial and social life of the city will be celebrated all over Belfast tomorrow on July 4 – ‘Independents Day’.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has hooked up with local traders’ groups to celebrate the continued vitality of tour small businesses. A typical event was in West Belfast, where NIIRTA launched Independents’ Day this week with the West Belfast Traders’ Forum.

NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “West Belfast has some fantastic independent traders who add to the overall retail and hospitality of the city offer as a whole. Our colleagues in the West Belfast Traders’ Forum do a magnificent job in campaigning for local business and have shown real initiative in supporting ‘shopping local’ with the introduction of the Loyalty Card.

“Independents Day is all about highlighting and celebrating the huge contribution that local retailers make, not just to the economy, but to the community, town centres and high streets.

“We want to see shoppers in West Belfast and throughout Northern Ireland make an extra special effort to shop independently on the fourth of July and we believe they will be surprised at the high level of choice, quality and customer service that our sector offers”

West Belfast Traders’ Forum Chair Jacqueline O’Donnell said: “We are calling on shoppers to support local businesses, this weekend and beyond, from the corner newsagents to the butchers, greengrocers, eateries, and not forgetting the many independent businesses that trade within our local shopping centres, namely the Kennedy Centre, Park Centre and Dairy Farm.

“We need to constantly remind ourselves that these businesses on our doorsteps are providing local employment for local people so it is vital that we support these independents in sustaining local jobs. It is these very businesses that make West Belfast the vibrant place it is today. So lets ‘Buy Local’.”

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said: “This is a great initiative and we as a community should do more to support and sustain local businesses.

“Local businesses support thousands of jobs in West Belfast and offer a great service to the local people.

“I want to urge people to support this scheme and do their shopping in West Belfast not only on the fourth of July but throughout the year also.

“Independents Day should be used as a launch for local businesses and community to come together to ensure that the many people who are working in local businesses are sustained for a long period of time.

“I want to thank the independent businesses who work tirelessly for the community in the great services that they provide,” he added.