The Support for Independent Retail campaign is egging on small businesses and towns across the UK to organise and run easter egg hunts in their areas, as the annual Enjoy an Independent Easter event marks its third year.

The Easter event is designed to improve footfall to village, town and city centres around the country, as retail parks and out-of-town establishments continue to lure shoppers away from local high streets.

“Even though independent retailers are only just beginning to recover from the Christmas period, it is now time to start planning ahead for Easter,” explains Clare Rayner, The Retail Champion and founder of Support for Independent Retail.

“Enjoy an Independent Easter is a great activity to get people shopping locally. It’s fun for all the family and it will make sure that those consumers are aware of the fantastic, unique shops that can be found right on their doorsteps!”

While the amount of independent retailers continues to grow, local shops are still struggling to pull in those all-important customers. Recent Springboard data revealed that year-round footfall remains on the decline: December was 0.7% down on the previous year and the three-month average is now at a 1.3% decline. Unlike high streets and shopping centres, out-of-town experienced positive footfall growth for every month in 2014.

Despite the rise in popularity for Click & Collect services, online shopping still plays a major role in footfall deterioration. Last year’s online sales in the UK flew beyond £100b for the first time, indicating that independent retailers need to up their game if they want to retain customers.

The Easter Egg Hunt invites consumers to collect Easter Egg stickers from various participating independent retailers. Once they’ve collected all of their stickers, they win a special Easter treat – and, in some areas, can even be entered into a prize draw.

The activity is intended to run throughout an area’s school Easter holidays, so that adults and children alike can join in the fun and explore their local shops.

Although consumers aren’t required to buy anything when they collect their stickers, the purpose of the campaign is to highlight the great customer experience they can find in smaller shops – increasing the chances of future visits to make purchases and of recommendations to friends.

“It’s absolutely vital that independent retailers get involved and help to organise an Easter Egg Hunt for their area,” says Clare. “Footfall statistics across the last year were incredibly disappointing for high streets and shopping centres, so independent retailers were among the many that missed out.

“That shouldn’t be the case – independent retailers are a vital part of the UK’s shopping scene, and consumers need a gentle nudge to remind them to spend with their local shops. Enjoy an Independent Easter is all about raising awareness and educating shoppers on how important independent retailers are to the local economy.”

She adds, “Research by CLES and FSB has shown that for every pound spent locally, between 50p and 70p will be put back into the local economy. If that pound is spent out of town, only 5p trickles back. That’s what we need to get across to shoppers.”

Enjoy an Independent Easter relies on local activation partners to organise and manage the Easter Egg Hunts in their areas. If any towns or independent retailers want to find out more about the role and how their area can get involved, they are invited to visit the website above.