Loyalty bonus as Christmas shoppers plan to buy local

As the doors of Britain’s non-essential retailers reopen, business owners are set for a £3.5 billion boost in the build up to Christmas as two thirds of people plan to buy gifts from independent shops.

That’s according to research from the British Independent Retailers Association and Starling Bank who recognise that the UK is home to over 400,000 independent stores.

When asked why they would opt to buy locally this year, more than two in five of those spoken to said they wanted to support independent businesses and the community due to the impact of the pandemic.

A similar proportion also said they wanted to enjoy an original gift selection, whilst a quarter felt that local independent shops were more convenient.

Of those choosing to shop with independent businesses, they will, on average, spend about £119 on gifts. Food and beverages are the most popular items to buy from independent shops, followed by homeware , clothing  and jewellery.

For most of the year we have seen ‘indies’ change their business model and increase their digital footprint. This will continue

 And despite the shift to digital channels seen since the start of the pandemic, more than a quarter of shoppers are planning a trip to their local store, with the vast majority opting to use contactless payments.

Online deliveries are set to be the most popular Christmas shopping method this year as people look to stay safe. More than half will be doing most of their shopping online, with almost half using home deliveries, and eight per cent using click and collect.

The findings also showed that young people were the most likely to be getting behind their local economies this Christmas, with three quarters of 18 to 34-year-olds stating their intention to buy gifts from independent shops, with this figure falling to 65 per cent among 35 to 54-year-olds and 61 per cent among over-55s.

Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive of the British Independent Retailers Association said: “This research shows the importance of independent retail to the communities throughout the UK. For most of the year we have seen ‘indies’ change their business model and increase their digital footprint. This will continue without forgetting about the local opportunity.”

Anne Boden, CEO and Founder of Starling Bank said: “Local businesses are the backbone of our economy and our communities. Independent retailers have had to show huge amounts of resilience weathering the storm this year and it’s been impressive to see how so many have quickly adapted, whether that be moving online or adjusting their business model.”

The resilience and creativity of small businesses in the face of the most trying of circumstances continues to be nothing short of incredible

Another body of research, commissioned by American Express, principal supporter of Small Business Saturday, found nearly half of those shopping with small businesses will do so because they want to support local jobs. And a further three in ten say it’s because they appreciate how hard these businesses have worked this year and they want to see them succeed.

Non-essential businesses have been sorely missed during lockdown. People are most excited to see hairdressers (34%), restaurants (34%) and cafés (31%) reopen their doors as lockdown restrictions lift.

Dan Edelman, General Manager UK, Global Merchant and Network Services,  said: “The resilience and creativity of small businesses in the face of the most trying of circumstances continues to be nothing short of incredible.  It’s great to see that Brits recognise the important contribution local small businesses make and want to show their support, rewarding them with a much-needed boost to spending before the end of the year.

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