Last-minute festive shopping? How to support your local businesses this Christmas

21 December 2021


Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith
Woman is on the phone with a pencil in her other hand making notes. Next to her is a Christmas wreath

Last-minute festive shopping? How to support your local businesses this Christmas

Twas the week before Christmas, and there was no rest in the house. For Mummy was shopping, with a few clicks of her mouse.

This year, more people than ever before will be doing their festive shopping online — 49% of Brits will log on and buy the bulk of their gifts, up from 40% in 2019 (Thrasio, via Charged Retail). This will be compounded by the ongoing pandemic, but it’s not the best news for local stores who rely on in-person trade at this time of the year and often get muscled out online by big-spending chains.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the small fish. In the UK, we are set to spend around £8.4 billion at small and independent retailers this Christmas, which is £2 billion more than in 2020 (DirectLine), so there will be at least some respite for struggling SMEs. While we’re heading in the right direction, there’s still plenty of reasons to spare a thought for your local businesses for any last-minute shopping.

Why is shopping locally so important?

Small- and medium-sized businesses play an important role in our economy, making up 99.2% of all businesses in the UK, three-fifths of employment and over half of the turnover in the private sector (FSB). However, since the pandemic in 2020, numbers have fallen from 5.97 to 5.58 million, showing just how tough it’s been (Statista).

Supporting these SMEs is important, and when you buy products from them it goes beyond just the initial purchase. You are not only providing revenue that keeps the business going, but you’re giving support to the livelihoods of employees and those further down the supply chain. Your decision simply has much more of an impact than if you chose to shop with a much larger business.

In most cases, when you shop with a small business nearby, you’re helping to support your community as well — research by VISA found that for every £10 spent with local businesses surveyed, £3.80 is retained in the local area. This can have a ripple effect that sees owners investing this money back into other local enterprises, which, in turn, will help your local area to thrive.

There’s also the case that shopping locally can help to keep your carbon footprint low, especially if you visit businesses within walking or cycling distance and you don’t need to drive your car or get public transport. You’ll also be helping to cut out the pollution that would be needed for delivery after buying online.

How to support local businesses this Christmas

Here are a few ideas for how you can support businesses in your local area.

Please note: Be sure to take the appropriate safety precautions before going on any in-person shopping trips — mask up, sanitise hands and stay socially distanced.

Visit your local deli or farm shop to pick up food gifts

Are any of your loved ones connoisseurs of fancy foods? Then they’re sure to love a gift that offers a treat for their tastebuds. If you have a local deli nearby or a farm shop in your area, they’re a great place to purchase fancier or more unusual food gifts.

You may also wish to pick up some luxury items for your own Christmas dinner, though, if you’re looking for a less pricey option, then you could head to your local greengrocers to source some fresh vegetables for your feast.

Use Google to find businesses nearby

In recent years, Google has done a fantastic job of making local businesses more visible at the top of their search results. Whether you’re searching via a browser or their Maps app, you’ll find listings, opening hours and reviews for places nearby. It’s a great way of discovering and supporting businesses you might not have visited before.

Get word of mouth recommendations

While Google is certainly your friend, you can often get a few great recommendations via word of mouth from people who might have first-hand experience of shopping with or using a local business’s services. So, be sure to ask your friends and family or pop a message on social media to get some advice on where to go.

Share a local experience with someone

Don’t feel like buying a typical gift for someone? Then it might be worth investing in an experience that you can share with them from a local business. This could be something like cooking or yoga classes at a nearby school, a ticket for an independent cinema or a voucher to be spent at one of the nicest restaurants in your area.

Giving an experience as a gift also has a double benefit: you’re already spending your money with a local business but your loved one may also become a loyal customer or spread a recommendation via word of mouth if they enjoy their time.

We hope you picked up some great tips for supporting your local businesses this week in this blog post. Lastly, we’d like to wish you a merry Christmas and a great festive period on behalf of everyone here at Atom bank — thanks for reading!