Written by Hayley Biggs
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that small businesses need our help to survive more than ever before. We need to stick together and support one another to make sure independent, local businesses don’t crumble under the pressure of the pandemic. So this Christmas, it's time to boycott Amazon and turn to support independent businesses instead.
According to a Simply Business Survey, Covid19 could cost small businesses up to £69 billion in total and 234,000 of them have already stopped trading. No one wants this to continue. If we can put a stop to it we will, but we need your help! Local, independent businesses help drive fresh, innovative ideas which big corporations simply can’t compete with. They support the economy and enrich our local communities.
The festive period is the annual retail peak for every small business. It's the busiest time of year and what some companies spend all year preparing for. In this article, we’re going to share the seven best ways to support small businesses this Christmas.
9 top tips to shop small and support local this holiday season
#1 Buy your Christmas dinner ingredients from local shops
Rather than heading to Asda, Tesco, Morrisons or Sainsbury's for your turkey and stuffing this holiday season, why not head into your local town and pick the ingredients up from independent suppliers. Order your turkey from the local butchers, visit the local greengrocer for your vegetables and stop by your local farm shop for herbs, spices and sauces.
This way you can support a variety of small businesses all in one hit. Plus, we guarantee you’ll have an incredibly tasty Christmas dinner with all of your locally sourced produce.
#2 Do your research to find the perfect gift
Small businesses don’t have the big budgets which allow them to dominate television adverts or take over billboards. To discover these little gems when searching for the perfect Christmas gift you have to do a little research.
Our top tip is to head straight Instagram. Search the hashtag of the item you're after, for example, #cashmerejumper. From here you will be shown a selection of images, some of which will be posted from small businesses trying to promote their products social media. This is a great way to find a unique gift and help small businesses at the same time.
#3 Be vocal about shopping local
We don’t mean stand outside your house and shout at the neighbours. Get yourself online and share the love on social media.
Small businesses benefit from your like, follow, share or mention on social media. It gives them credibility and massively boosts the chances of them being found by others. In fact, word of mouth marketing brings in five times more sales than paid media.
#4 Head to the Christmas markets
Who doesn’t love a Christmas fair? They're fun, festive and filled with great food. You can find amazing gifts and unique decorations whilst enjoying the holiday atmosphere. What’s even better is that the majority of the stalls are run by small businesses. Are they going to go ahead this year? We can't guarantee it. If they do, check out Country Living, where they've listed the ten best Christmas markets in the UK. And if they don't, be sure to check out online alternatives like Online Christmas Fair and Christmas Market 2020.
#5 Eat out to help out
Okay, fine. We may have stolen this one from Rishi Sunak... Christmas is all about eating, drinking and being merry. We all dine out more often in the month of December, so let's use this time to support small businesses.
Look for independent restaurants (no chains here please) and book yourself in for a tasty meal. If you don’t fancy venturing out into the cold, or if coronavirus doesn't allow it, look for local restaurants offering takeaway instead. Enjoy a cosy night in whilst knowing you’ve made a positive impact on a small business.
#6 Send a box of local treats
We’re not just talking about any old gift box. Thriving Box Co. designs and delivers ‘Keep Local Thriving’ gift boxes. These have hand-picked, locally sourced products which help you discover and support small businesses throughout the UK. They've also just launched their festive gift boxes. From handmade honey, craft beer, artisan chocolate and luxury beauty items, you'll be sure to find a box of treats to please everyone this Christmas. You can select a small or large size and they can be sent anywhere in the world. So what are you waiting for? Shop small and support local by sending a luxury care package this Christmas.
#7 Say it with a voucher
High streets are saturated with small independently owned beauty businesses ranging from hairdressers and beauty salons to nail bars and barbers. So why not give these pampering havens a boost by gifting your loved one a voucher to treat themselves at a later date. Gift cards are a perfect way to give a thoughtful gift this Christmas whilst helping to support independent businesses in your local community.
#8 Leave a glowing Google Review
Online reviews are one of the most powerful methods to increase sales in small businesses. Did you know a whopping 91% of consumers between the ages of 18 to 34 say positive reviews make them more likely to have confidence in businesses? This is because people trust what other people say. Just look at how successful Tripadvisor is. Nowadays it's criminal to book a holiday before checking the comments and ratings on the notorious website.
This is similar to Google Reviews. They give credibility to small businesses while helping them rank higher on Google, making them more visible to new visitors. Next time you have a great experience with a small business be sure to leave them a glowing review on Google.
#9 Think big, shop small
This is our mantra, and it can be yours too.
Christmas is the time to stock up on scented candles, spiced air fresheners, holiday decorations and copious amounts of prosecco. But rather than heading down to your local retail chain to buy your festive goodies, get yourself searching for local online retailers.
Type the product into your search engine and make sure you venture to at least page two of the search results. Here you'll find smaller independent businesses hiding. Buy your festive homeware products direct from the small business owners to support local businesses rather than relying on the usual retail giants.
Let's all agree it’s easy to support small businesses, we've just got to make an effort. Focussing on shopping small this festive season will not only help spread the word about local businesses, but it'll also bring you better quality gifts, meals and experiences. So this Christmas, do your part to support local and help put a smile on everybody's face.