Insurance · 5 December 2016

Local retailers the preferred choice for stress-free Christmas shopping

Christmas shopping
Christmas shoppers are increasingly choosing not to travel to busy city centres

More and more British consumers are turning to small local retailers for more enjoyable, relaxing Christmas shopping, new research has shown.

According to a new study from insurer Axa, UK shoppers are expected to spend around £21bn on Christmas presents throughout December 2016, with £5.2bn to be spent in small shops.

Large crowds were cited as the main source of worry for shoppers during the festive season. The study suggested that small retailers will benefit from people choosing to shop locally for gifts, rather than travel to city centers to visit larger stores.

Local food and drink retailers are also expected to benefit from the change in Christmas shopping habits. The research concluded that across the UK these firms will receive a £2.3bn boost in 2016, from consumers preferring to shop locally.

“Small shops can offer an antidote to the manic buying seen elsewhere,” explained Axa Business Insurance’s managing director Darrell Sansom. “Christmas markets have taken off massively in recent years, and people are very open to community events at this time of year.”

When asked about their feelings towards Christmas shopping in general, stress was the overriding factor for most consumers.

According to Axa survey respondents, 65 per cent of shoppers said they experienced a rush of stress when thinking about Christmas shopping, with just 34 per cent feeling excited.

Small shops were voted as the best place for Christmas shopping, followed by Christmas markets and fairs. Just 23 per cent of the survey’s respondents said they preferred larger stores for their Christmas shopping, while 17 per cent said they didn’t enjoy the activity anywhere.

The research concluded that retailers which provide a distraction for shoppers in the form of entertainment are most likely to do well during the Christmas period.

Nearly 80 per cent of people said they would attend a Christmas event if organized by a local shop, with Christmas ghost walks and stargazing nights cited as popular options to lure people away from hectic high streets.

Sansom added: “Christmas shopping can be magical and exciting, but everyone has experienced that feeling of overload, especially when scouring noisy shopping centers for last minute presents.

“Small shops can benefit by organising things like walks, choir services and family events, especially those that put a bit of magic and mystery back”.

In total, small UK retailers are expected to gain an additional £7.5bn in revenue in December, compared with any other month in 2016.

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Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.


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