BRITS ARE PLANNING TO BUY LOCAL THIS CHRISTMAS
But…increased running costs and high energy bills mean local business owners are still planning for tough times ahead
- 78 per cent of consumers think it’s important to support local retailers this Christmas
- 67 per cent of consumers consider a local business owner a friend
- 83 per cent of independent retailers are worried about their ability to operate this winter
- 63 per cent of independent retailers are concerned about paying their energy bills
Wednesday 19th October 2022: Consumers across the country think it is important to support local retailers this Christmas, despite the current tough economic outlook. Whilst this is good news for local independent retailers, they are still worried about their ability to operate successfully this winter, with their biggest concerns being paying their energy bills and having to increase their prices.
According to new research issued today by Smart Energy GB, 78 per cent of consumers think it’s important to support local retailers this Christmas, with 67 per cent saying they consider a local business owner a friend. More than half (56 per cent) say they are going to buy local over the festive period to put money back into the local economy.
When it comes to what they plan to buy, food, drinks, stocking fillers and wrapping paper top the list. Consumers say they plan to source around a third (36 per cent) of their Christmas shopping from local retailers this year and are prepared to spend more on their Christmas shopping, if they need to, to support their high street. This is despite almost a quarter (24 per cent) needing to cut down on their spending compared to 2021.
The research was commissioned to launch Smart Energy GB’s Small Business Hub – an online resource with advice and tips for small business owners.
A separate poll of local independent retailers has revealed that their biggest concern this winter is being able to afford their energy bills.
Deborah Meaden, who is working with Smart Energy GB, said: “It is clear that many small businesses are concerned about making enough sales over the Christmas period and managing other pressures, such as high energy bills.
“It is therefore heartening to see that many people really do value their local shops and are willing to put their hands in their pockets to support them.
“It is important that small businesses don’t suffer in silence and do look at what support is available to them. Energy can be one of the biggest outgoings for small businesses during the winter, so taking all the steps you can to manage yours better, such as getting a smart meter, will help make a difference.”
It emerged that 83 per cent of retailers are worried about a challenging festive period due to the cost-of-living crisis and high energy prices. This comes as December is the busiest trading opportunity of the year for 87 per cent, with nine in 10 saying increased sales over Christmas are important for their long-term success.
Half are planning to adapt their businesses to stay afloat during the cost-of-living crisis, and 32 per cent have already taken steps in this process, with 13 per cent even considering pivoting to an online only business model.
Eight in 10 independent retailers said they are interested in more advice about how to manage increased energy costs, but only 43 per cent have sought help or advice to get through the winter. Of those who have already asked for support, banks, energy providers, money advice websites and their accountants proved the most useful.
To manage costs, 35 per cent of retailers have been monitoring energy more closely and a third (33 per cent) won’t be making any more hires to save money on energy bills and other overheads. Two in three said they would feel more in control of their business if they were able to get accurate bills.
Victoria Bacon, Director, Smart Energy GB, said: “It’s great to see that people are planning to support their local independent shops this Christmas, even in tough economic times. Retailers have faced many of the same challenges as consumers this year, including energy price hikes and increases in the cost of living. Our research shows they are still worried about increased running costs, and especially how they are going to pay their energy bills.
“Getting a smart meter is one small thing which can help with the day-to-day challenges of running a business, as it sends accurate energy readings direct to your supplier, which frees up time and puts an end to estimated bills.”