THE recent closure of Mold clothes shop, Clay's of Chester, after more than 40 years of trading on the high street, highlighted the many issues facing our independent traders.

Owners Richard and Beverley Wynn spoke with the Leader about having to close due to poor footfall and not being able to compete with the growth of convenient online shopping.

But despite these problems, many businesses across the country are determined to fight back and this week sees traders across Mold taking part in the first ever National Fiver Fest.

Organised by campaign group, Totally Locally, the week-long drive is encouraging shoppers to return to their town centres and high streets with the enticement of shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and businesses putting on £5 offers for the duration of the Fiver Fest campaign, which runs from June 8-15.

Caroline Johnson, joint-owner of The Book Shop, in Mold and the co-ordinator of the town's campaign, said: "We're joining in with the National Fiver Fest to give people some great bargains for local shoppers, but also to showcase the town and the great shops and businesses we have here.

"Fiver Fest promotes the main Totally Locally message: 'If every adult in Mold spent just £5 a week with their local independent shops and businesses instead of online or at the big supermarkets or chain stores, it would be worth £13.5 billion going directly into the country's economy'.

"On average each independent business has around 12 local suppliers who are also often independent, family-run businesses. So that £5 spent is re-spent locally as well, further helping the town. And the beauty of spending £5 is that it's easy, guilt free and pretty much anyone can do it. Tiny actions like this can make a huge impact when lots of people vote with their feet.

Fiver Fest is part of the award-winning Totally Locally town kit - a completely free marketing campaign for towns to use which has been hugely successful in helping towns to buck the trend of declining high streets.

Chris Sands, founder of Totally Locally, said: "Independent businesses are the lifeblood of our high streets and town centres, run by incredibly passionate and knowledgeable people, often pouring their life savings into their businesses. Everyone is aware of the challenges our high streets are facing and, so far, there has been a lot of talk but no real actions. Totally Locally towns have run many Fiver Fests individually with great success, so we decided to coordinate a National Fiver Fest to spread the word about our £5 message and get people back into our town centres and supporting their high street.

"Since I created the Totally Locally Town Kit, towns involved have gone on to win the High Street of The Year competition and other awards for turning their towns around, the number of empty shops in their town reduced, created brand new markets and events, and most of all the businesses in the towns have started to work together to promote their town and each other."

According to Chris, collaborating, sharing ideas and marketing each other's businesses is quite an alien concept to a lot of retailers, but once towns start to work this way it can have a massive benefit to residents, businesses and the surrounding supply chain, making the towns a better place to live and work, with better facilities and employment.

"Obviously people are feeling a little bit down because of the recent shop closures," said Caroline. "Morale is a little bit low but the whole idea of this campaign is that we want people to realise that there are still plenty of shops in Mold, including both independents that have been here a long time and those that have opened recently, because they have faith in the town. There is still positivity in the town despite shops closing.

"Many towns cannot sustain one book shop but here in Mold we have two and who would have thought vinyl would have come back into fashion with our very successful record shop."

Data released by the Booksellers Association (BA) this year showed that in 2018 the number of independent bookshops on UK high streets rose by 15 to 883, despite the dominance of online retailers and Caroline is confident the sector will continue to grow.

"Things are very good in the book trade, with more shops opening than closing," she said. "People are coming back from the internet because they like the personal service they get in a bricks and mortar shop."

One of the other businesses joining the crusade this week is The Olive Tree Delicatessen, which was recently named the Best Deli in Wales at a recent awards event.

Owner Richard Howells, said: "When Caroline approached me about coming together with other local retailers to try and collaborate on increasing our footfall I thought it was a great idea.

"It's an opportunity to let people know there are businesses in Mold that rely on local support and if we can do anything to promote that it's fantastic.

"As a deli we are not absolved from the issues facing high streets - we still have our quiet weeks and our busy weeks. When we tend to do well is when we think of different things to do and this is a good example. Any new ideas and initiatives are always welcome in Mold and we're happy to be part of this."

Richard admits his main concern at the moment is the fallout from Brexit and he is waiting to see what the impact it will have on the food sector.

"I'm expecting problems because obviously a lot of our products are continental and European and I'm sure there will be a change in how we bring our products into the country," he said. "Happily we are finding people are still willing to spend on quality."

With more than 30 towns across the UK taking part in Fiver Fest it is hoped the campaign can show the diversity and value of what independents are selling, and to say thank you to the communities that support them.

"If you work together with other retailers it benefits everybody," added Richard. "We've even cut down our range because we know other shops supply certain goods and we send our customers there and they'll send people back to us. When you work with other businesses we all benefit."