THE search is officially on to find Northern Ireland’s High Street Heroes, a public online vote for shoppers and customers to choose their favourite independent retailer and overall local high street.
Following a difficult two years for independent retailers, local shoppers are encouraged to support the businesses they want to reward for their tireless service to their community.
Whether your High Street Hero is your favourite butcher, baker, or barrista, the campaign is a celebration of the brilliant work of independent retailers and the pride they bring to local communities. The deadline for nominations is set to close in early August.
High Street Heroes NI is a joint campaign from Retail NI and Belfast Live supported by Camelot and Voice for Locals. Thousands of people casted their votes last year across Northern Ireland, with competition expected to be stiff as town and villages vie for the overall titles.
Votes can be cast across 11 different categories with shoppers and customers asked to name their favourite convenience store, deli, butcher, off-license or coffee shop, among others.
To give your local independent retailers the recognition they deserve place your vote at www.belfastlive.co.uk/HSH
The High Street Heroes categories include: best convenience store, best coffee shop, best healthcare retailer, best fashion retailer, best butcher, best deli, best homeware retailer, best forecourt/petrol station, best off licence, high street of the year, independent retailer employee of the year, overall independent retailer (chosen from the winners).
Retail NI chief executive, Glyn Roberts said: “The High Street Heroes NI awards are a brilliant celebration of the huge contribution independent retailers make to our local high streets and the economy.
"High Street Heroes NI gives consumers the opportunity to vote for their favourite independent retailer and high street and will provide a much-needed boost to Northern Ireland’s retailers.”
Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Barry McElduff said: “Retail NI’s campaign puts the focus deservedly on our independent retailers, who have had to be more resilient than ever over the past two years. I am extremely proud of the independent retailers in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and the invaluable contribution they make to our community.
“Retail NI’s campaign ensures the services provided by all independent retailers is rightfully recognised and provides encouragement to our retailers despite the challenges they face.
“Independent retailers bring a mix of tradition and diversity to our towns and villages and that is something that deserves to be celebrated. It is the character and service provided by independent retailers that continue to bring shoppers to our towns and villages daily.”
Retail director of Camelot, Jenny Blogg said: “We are delighted to support High Street Heroes NI again this year to help highlight some of the excellent work Northern Ireland retailers continue to do in their communities.
"From small corner shops to local newsagents and well-stocked convenience stores, our 44,000 retail partners are the backbone of The National Lottery and have been for almost 28 years now, and their fantastic work has not gone unnoticed – especially over the last few years."
Editor-in-chief of Reach Ireland, Chris Sherrard, said: “Local independent retailers have had to adapt and innovate services to not only survive, but thrive, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and now to the cost-of-living crisis.
“The resilience they have shown is remarkable and now, we can all play our part by buying local and voting for our favourite independent retailer via www.belfastlive.co.uk/HSH.”
Voice For Locals founder, Jay Thattai, said: "We all have our personal favourite local independent retailers close to where we live. It has never been more important to voice out for them and really show how important they are to communities across Northern Ireland.
"It is those retailers who encourage people into cities, towns and villages to enjoy the unique local choices, quality and personal touch on offer.
"We want to see local consumers voting for their favourite independent retailers and being proud of the fantastic contribution they make to the high streets."