Local and indie shops to see £3.5bn spending boom

As the doors of “non-essential” shops re-open tomorrow, independent and local stores are set for a £3.5 billion boost in the build up to Christmas, as two-thirds (66 per cent) of people plan to buy gifts from independent shops.

Research from digital bank Starling and the British Independent Retailers Association questioned 2,000 UK adults in November and found that many wanted to “buy local”.

The research found that more than two-in-five (43 per cent) said they wanted to support independent businesses and the community due to the impact of the pandemic.

A similar proportion (42 per cent) also said they wanted to enjoy an “original gift selection”, while 25 per cent felt that local independent shops were “more convenient”.

Of those choosing to shop with independent businesses, the average person will spend around £119 on gifts. Food and beverages are the most popular items to buy from independent shops (43 per cent), followed by homeware (29 per cent), clothing (27 per cent) and jewellery (26 per cent).

Despite the shift to digital channels seen since the start of the pandemic, more than a quarter of shoppers (26 per cent) are planning a trip to their local store, with the vast majority of these opting to use contactless payments options (23 per cent).

But more than half (55 per cent) of adults will still be doing the majority of their shopping online, with 47 per cent using home deliveries, and 8 per cent using Click and Collect.

The survey also found that shoppers in the South West were more likely than those from any other UK region or nation to seek out presents from independent shops, with just under three-quarters (72 per cent) stating their intention to do so. This was closely followed by 71 per cent of residents in London and Scotland.

The findings also showed that young people were the most likely to be getting behind their local economies this Christmas, with three-quarters (75 per cent) 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 the over-55s.

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira), said: “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, chief executive 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.”

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