Independent retailers that work together can end up enjoying a significant boost to their sales.
That's the conclusion of the new The Value of Collaboration report released today by American Express, and carried out by retail expert Conlumino.
It says that by collaborating via activities such as joint marketing campaigns and promotions, loyalty schemes and local events, small retailers can add an average of up to £30,000 in sales a year. This would increase sales of independents nationally by some £900m.
As well as formal collaboration, the report also looks at the day-to-day cost savings small retailers can achieve by lending each other a helping hand.
Minding each other's shops, taking in deliveries, doing a bank run or providing loose change could save independent businesses an average of £3,000 each per year in labour costs.
In total, nearly three quarters (73%) of businesses involved in the report said they are supporting each other in some way. This includes other activities such as discussing business challenges with their peers, comparing performance or discussing the trading environment.
Mark Roper, head of UK merchant services at American Express, commented: "Whether it's the local deli and off licence putting on a joint cheese and wine night, or an entire high street running a seasonal promotion, small merchants across the UK are clubbing together to improve their collective lot.
"It makes strong business sense, delivering tangible returns in terms of boosted sales and saved labour costs and it's a trend that's increasing. One in six respondents said they plan to collaborate more in the next year or so."
Conlumino managing director Neil Saunders added that collaboration between independent businesses "has a very positive impact on the economics of running an independent high street business".
The report also finds that 59% of small business owners know at least half of their fellow local traders, while 23% know almost all of them, and are enjoying the mutual benefit of recommending each other to customers.