It might be tempting to do all your Christmas shopping with a single online retailer. However, in the current economic climate, you could make a huge difference by backing independent businesses and 'shopping small' this festive season. Here are six meaningful ways to support the UK’s smallest businesses at this crucial time of year.
1. Shop for gifts from independent businesses
By now, local independent retailers should be fully stocked for the festive season, so why not head to your local high street for your Christmas shopping?
If you’d prefer to skip in-person shopping this year, see if your favourite local shops have online stores. You can also check out independent seller directories like Etsy, Trouva, and Not On The High Street to search for unique gifts and browse hundreds of independent shops across the UK, all from the cosy comfort of your sofa.
The gift-giving season is also a great opportunity to support your local hospitality businesses, particularly as people may be cutting back on luxuries such as dining out this year. A voucher for a local coffee shop or restaurant makes a great gift and helps the independent businesses in your community.
2. Spread the word
Every business owner knows that marketing can be time-consuming, challenging and expensive - especially during winter when we’re bombarded by festive advertising. This makes word-of-mouth marketing very valuable for small businesses, particularly when everyone is searching for unique gift ideas.
Show your appreciation and champion the small businesses that you shop with, whether they encourage you to or not. Recommend them to your friends and family, write an online review or include their business cards when you give gifts from their shops. If you aren’t sure how best to show your support for a business, just ask the owners.
3. Get social and share the love
Social media may be the best way to spread the news about an amazing small business that you’ve discovered. Following businesses on their social channels and liking or commenting on their posts can help to improve their online visibility so that they can share their message with more people. You can also tag friends that you think may be interested in the brand, use the business’s hashtag or share pictures of your purchases. You could even let your followers know what makes the small business so brilliant by highlighting their points of difference such as their unique designs, sustainable packaging or locally-sourced produce.
4. Think beyond gifts
Whether you’re decking the halls with boughs of holly or preparing to host family and friends, skip the stress of busy supermarkets and high streets and source your decorations and food from local artisans and neighbourhood shops.
The added benefit of shopping for food locally is that it can be a fresher and more sustainable choice. Remember that supplies can be more limited at smaller retailers, so you may need to place orders in advance.
5. Visit a festive craft fair
If you’ve left your Christmas shopping until the last minute and you’re too short on time to source lots of independent retailers, consider heading to a Christmas market, gallery event or craft fair. There are lots of festive fairs in the run up to Christmas and they are packed with small businesses that you can support while ticking off everything on your list. Also, by attending a local fair, you help to increase its footfall and make it more likely that it will happen again next year.
6. Embrace your local area
Many small businesses struggle with marketing costs and so you may not yet have heard of some of the independent gems in your area. Taking the time to seek out brilliant local businesses is an excellent way to show them some support. If you’re not sure where to start, post your query on a local social media page to get some insider knowledge. Whether you’re looking for handmade Christmas cards, unique decorations or an emergency plumber, ask the local community and find out about the independent businesses that exist near you.
Remember, supporting small businesses should be for life, not just for Christmas. By continuing your independent shopping habits into the new year and beyond, you’ll make a world of difference to small business owners everywhere.