Independent retailers need to focus on getting the basics of their business right rather than driving down their prices and trying to buy products cheaper.

That was the message from Nisa marketing director Ian Bishop ahead of the rise in the national living wage that takes place next month.

From April 1, all workers aged 25 or above will be entitled to earn a minimum of £7.20 – a 50p increase on the national minimum wage.

In most cases, consumers are prepared to pay a little bit more – if they get what they want, when they want it, with a friendly smile and great service

As retailers’ costs rise, they will be looking to buy cheaper from wholesale and cash & carry, Bishop told Retail Express, but he warned that a healthy business isn’t all about price.

“Price is important, but you need to fix the basics first. You’re never going to fight the discounter stores on price. You are never going to win that battle, so don’t try. Look for something else to be your USP,” he said. 

“In most cases, consumers are prepared to pay a little bit more – if they get what they want, when they want it, with a friendly smile and great service. That’s the biggest single thing the sector misses.”

He recommended that independent news and convenience retailers take the time to stand back and look at their store from the outside and then walk in to see what their customers see.

“Store owners need to ask themselves if they would be happy to come to the store if they were a consumer,” he added. “There’s a lot of self-help that can happen.”