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OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Independent shops set for £3.5 billion spending boost as Brits shop local this Christmas

2nd December 2020

  • UK’s non-essential retail reopens its doors today

  • Starling research finds 66% of shoppers will buy gifts from independent stores this year, spending on average £119

  • Shoppers in the South West, London and Scotland are most likely to buy local

  • Supporting local (43%) and unique gift options (42%) pull in the punters

2 December 2020: As the entire retail sector grapples with the stark realities of the pandemic, two thirds (66%) of people plan to buy gifts from independent shops meaning a £3.5 billion spending boost according to research from the British Independent Retailers Association and Starling Bank.


The UK is home to over 400,000 independent stores. When asked why they would opt to buy locally this year, more than two in five (43%) said they wanted to support independent businesses and the community due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. A similar proportion (42%) also said they wanted to enjoy an original gift selection, whilst 25% felt that local independent shops were more convenient.

Food glorious food

Of those choosing to shop with independent businesses, the average person will spend approximately £119 on gifts. Food and beverages are the most popular items to buy from independent shops (43%) followed by homeware (29%), clothing (27%) and jewellery (26%).

Keeping it local

Despite the shift to digital channels seen since the start of the pandemic, more than a quarter of shoppers (26%) are planning a trip to their local store, with the vast majority of these individuals opting to use contactless payments options (23%).

Online deliveries are set to be the most popular Christmas shopping method this year as people look to stay safe and healthy over the Christmas period. More than half (55%) of adults will be doing the majority of their shopping online, with 47% using home deliveries, and 8% using click and collect.

South West leads support for independent shops

The survey also found that shoppers in the South West were more likely than those from any other UK region or nation to seek out presents from independent shops, with just under three quarters (72%) stating their intention to do so. This was closely followed by 71% of residents in London and Scotland.

Backing from young people

The findings showed that young people were the most likely to be getting behind their local economies this Christmas, with three quarters (75%) of 18 to 34-year-olds stating their intention to buy gifts from independent shops, with this figure falling to 65% among 35 to 54-year-olds and 61% among over-55s.

Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive of the British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) commented: “This research shows the importance of independent retail to the communities throughout the UK. For most of the year we have seen ‘indies’ change their business model and increase their digital footprint. This will continue without forgetting about the local opportunity.”

Anne Boden, CEO and Founder of Starling Bank said: “Local businesses are the backbone of our economy and our communities. Independent retailers have had to show huge amounts of resilience weathering the storm this year and it’s been impressive to see how so many have quickly adapted, whether that be moving online or adjusting their business model."

Notes to Editors


  • 2,000 UK based adults participated in the poll

  • The survey ran between Friday 20 November and Tuesday 24 November 2020

  • The results are based on those who celebrate Christmas

  • The £3.5bn figure was calculated by:

    • 86% responded to the survey that they celebrate Christmas

    • We calculated 86% of the UK adult population (52,403,344) = 45,066,876

    • We calculated 66% (those who reported their intention to spend in independent shops this Christmas in the survey) of 45,066,876= 29,744,138

    • We then multiplied 29,744,138 by 119 to get the total amount projected to be spent in the lead up to Christmas = 3.5 billion

About Starling Bank

Starling is a leading digital bank, founded in 2014 and voted Best British Bank in 2018, 2019 and 2020. Its retail banking app offers personal, business, joint, Euro, USD, child and current accounts on Android and iOS. The Starling Marketplace offers customers in-app access to third party financial services. Starling also offers ground-breaking B2B banking and payments services. It has opened more than 1.9 million accounts, including more than 285,000 limited company, sole trader and business accounts.

Starling is a fintech business with a banking licence, fully regulated by the FCA and PRA. It is directly connected to major payment schemes, including Faster Payments, SEPA, Bacs and MasterCard.


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