Festive boost for SMEs: Brits to spend £6.5 billion at independents this Christmas

  • Brits plan to spend £6.5 billion at independent retailers this Christmas - equivalent to £209 million a day throughout December
  • Overall, Brits anticipate buying nearly a third (29 per cent) of their Christmas gifts from independent retailers this year
  • Nearly half (48 per cent) say they plan to spend more with independent retailers this year because they want to help them survive the Covid-19 pandemic

SMEs are set to receive a festive boost this Christmas, with Brits planning to spend £6.5 billion on gifts from independent retailers, according to new research from Direct Line – Business.1 2  The news is a beacon of hope for small businesses following the easing of the second wave of lockdowns, which forced non-essential retail to shut across much of the UK.

Every day in December will on average see £209 million spent on gifts both online and in physical stores. Those shopping at independents (79%) will spend an average of £157 on presents, an increase of £43 from last year’s average spend, which amounted to a 2019 total of £4.4bn.3

Purchases at independent retailers will represent nearly a third of consumers’ (29 per cent) overall Christmas shopping, with 14 per cent revealing that more than half of their festive shopping will be from these stores.

Community-focused shopping

Many shoppers plan to buy from independent retailers because they want to support their local high street during this difficult period, showing how valued these businesses are by their surrounding communities. Nearly half (48 per cent) of them plan to spend more with independent retailers to help them survive the pandemic, while almost three quarters (72 per cent) want to help protect local employment during this difficult period.

This desire to support independent retailers is proven by consumers’ willingness to spend more this year than they did with them in 2019. A quarter (24 per cent) say they’ll spend between £25-£100 more at independent retailers this year, with nearly one in ten (9 per cent) saying they’ll buy between £101-£200 more at independent retailers this year than last.

Superior services

But it’s not just a case of wanting to support the community. Shopping at independent retailers is also desirable because Brits like the products and services they offer. Compared with major chains, 41 per cent say the quality of goods from independents is superior. And 57 per cent agree that less generic, more unusual items are best found at these businesses.

The shopping experience and ethical approach adopted by many independent retailers is also important to shoppers. 57 per cent agree that customer service from independent retailers is often better than the major chains, while 48 per cent feel these businesses take sustainability more seriously than large corporations.

The generation game

And with younger consumers particularly interested in ethical shopping, it’s perhaps not surprising that 18-34-year-olds are most likely to buy their Christmas presents from independent retailers this year. 54 per cent will do this because they believe that these shops take sustainability more seriously, while over half (56 per cent) of young people plan to shop at independent stores because they want to help them survive the pandemic.

Age breakdown of Christmas shopping at independent retailers

Age group

Average proportion of gifts expected to be bought from small, independent retailers this Christmas

Average spend at small, independent retailers

Estimated total spend at small, independent retailers




£1.9 billion


29.0 %


£2.6 billion




£1.7 billion

Jemma Holloway, Head of SME Trading at Direct Line - Business said: “This year has been turbulent to say the least for small independent retailers. It’s so great to see that consumers want to support local businesses by shopping with them this Christmas.

“Independent retailers offer wonderful, unique gifts, first-class customer service, and are the beating heartbeat of communities up and down the country. The British public clearly recognise this and the festive boost their spending will bring this Christmas will be crucial to the sector’s recovery.

“It’s important for small businesses to protect themselves with the right small business insurance. Reviewing their policies to ensure that they are adequately covered during this turbulent period will help them to avoid any potential setbacks. Direct Line doesn’t charge administration fees if you make mid-term amendments, making it extremely easy to keep your policy up-to-date during this period of immense change, whether that’s moving to trade online or changing employee levels.”

For further information on Direct Line - Business’ small business insurance please visit our webpage here:



Notes to Editors

1.     Opinium survey of 2,001 nationally representative UK adults, conducted 6th -9th November 2020

2.       Direct Line calculated the figures by multiplying the number of active UK shoppers based on population data (41,409,333) with the average spend amount (£157) as determined by the above Opinium survey

3.       Research conducted by Consumer Intelligence among a representative sample of 1,090 UK adults between 28th and 29th November 2019

For further information please contact:

Direct Line Group
Unni Henry
Senior PR Consultant
Email: [email protected]

Michael Hindmarsh
Account Director
Mobile: 07415 396642
Email: [email protected]

About Direct Line – Business

Launched in 2007 Direct Line - Business now has over half a million customer policies, providing a flexible range of insurance products for the landlord, van and small business sectors.

Direct Line insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line - Business and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line’s business products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk