Save Rural Retail
Local Shops supply the population and are a social hub, contribute to the quality of local life, encourage the population to stay and are a prerequisite for the development of other diversification activities. Also, SMEs and micro SMEs` weight in terms of employment is very significant in demographically fragile rural areas. However, even if retail shops are a basic service in sparsely populated areas, their existence is not inevitable. Small villages need shops to survive but small rural shops need also a minimum number of customers to survive. When depopulation started to affect severely some European regions, different schemes to support rural retail appeared around the year 2000. It was the case of Rural Multiservice Shops in Aragon (Spain) but also for different attempts and formulas in many other European countries,many northern and western but not exclusively. Even if these initiatives have undoubtedly contributed to cope with the situation in the past decade, the decline of retail in rural regions of Europe continues today. Rural businesses face significant challenges in the marketplace leading to their unfeasibility and to dramatic consequences in terms of social and territorial cohesion. SARURE partnership intends to exchange on the models essayed during the past decade but also on the possibilities that the new markets, the new mix of services, the new financing options and the new technologies open for retail SMEs today. 99% of the SMEs in the retail sector in partner rural areas are indeed micro SMEs especially vulnerable to crisis and with many barriers to innovation. In this context, the final aim of the project is to improve the partner regions policies in force supporting retail SMEs towards survival, innovation and overall competitiveness. Given the fact that today European regions from the diverse latitudes face the issue, Interreg Europe is deemed an excellent arena to exchange on successful experiences and policies.