UK shoppers are planning to spend £8.4bn this Christmas on gifts from independent shops, according to a new study. This will provide SMEs with a much-needed boost after a difficult 18 months.
This is almost a £2bn increase on last Christmas, when shoppers planned to spend £6.5bn at independent stores. This year, each individual is expected to spend £204 on Christmas presents, compared with £157 last year.
Purchases from independent retailers will form almost one-third of all Christmas shopping. There are several reasons for this, reflecting a public appreciation of SMEs and a wish to help them out after COVID-19.
Nearly half of consumers believe independent shops offer better quality goods than most major retail chains, with 57 per cent saying the customer service is also much better. Six in ten shoppers consider small retailers the perfect place to find unique and unusual gifts.
There are also societal reasons for buying Christmas presents from small companies. Almost three-quarters of Brits want to support small businesses, with seven in ten wanting to help independent stores bounce back from Covid and 68 per cent looking to support local employment rates.
Of those buying from small retailers, over a quarter will do so online.
Almost half are doing this because online shopping is easier, reflecting the digital progress small businesses have made since coronavirus first came about. More than one in five are staying away from physical stores to avoid the chance of catching COVID-19.
Around 25 per cent of consumers prefer in-store shopping, with six in ten doing so because they like to see the items in real life. 27 per cent do this because they enjoy the social interaction involved with shopping locally and 22 per cent even like to meet the business owners they are buying from.
The study has shown that many shoppers are trying to get their Christmas shopping done earlier this year, because of worries about the pandemic.
Of these consumers, 38 per cent are worried about supply chain issues and shortages of stock, with one-third worried about Covid restrictions on non-essential retail being brought back in. However, a quarter of consumers are shopping earlier because they feel so excited about Christmas, given that last year’s festivities were restricted.
Many independent retailers will benefit from this Christmas spending boom, with arts and crafts and clothing shops looking to do particularly well.
Jane Morgan, SME Product Manager, Direct Line business insurance, said: “The last two years have been turbulent for small independent businesses, so it’s great to see the British public supporting them this Christmas, recognising that they offer unique gifts, first-class customer service and an excellent quality of goods."
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