Christmas worth £13.9bn to small shop owners, American Express research reveals

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Christmas: ‘tis the season to be jolly, but for small shop owners this happiness depends on custom from the nation’s gift hunters. According to data analysis commissioned by American Express and undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), the value of the Christmas period to small retailers hit £13.9bn in 2014.

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American Express is principal supporter of Small Business Saturday which took place on 5 December and it commissioned the research to highlight the significance of the whole Christmas period to small retailers and the importance of shopping small during the festive season.

With the exception of ‘non-specialised food stores’ such as small supermarkets, all small retailers see a notable uplift in the value of their sales in December relative to other months, as shoppers hit the high street in search of gifts for their loved ones.

The ‘other non-food stores’ category, which includes stores selling items such as games, jewellery and books, claims the largest percentage of Christmas sales across all small retailers. In 2014, this category accounted for a third (33%) of total Christmas sales made by small retailers, worth £4.6bn. Food stores made up the second largest sector of small retailers’ Christmas sales, with 27% of the total, followed by ‘non-store retailing’ which includes online and mail order (16%) and household goods (13%).

The search for the perfect dress to wear to the office Christmas party also helps drive sales, with small clothing shops experiencing the most dramatic variation in the value of their sales in December relative to the rest of the year. In 2014 December sales of small clothing retailers were worth £459m, a 110% increase on sales in February, which was their lowest performing month.

Duncan Murray of eponymous independent wine merchant Duncan Murray Wines, said: “Christmas is a key time for us in terms of sales; in the ten days prior to Christmas I would say we make around four months’ worth of average monthly sales. It’s incredibly busy, yet I make sure my team never compromise their friendly, personal service which I believe is crucial to making the shopping experience a meaningful one.”

In order to help get customers through the doors of small shops, American Express is running a Shop Small offer which gives American Express Cardmembers £5 credit when they spend £10 or more at participating businesses.