Nearly a quarter of small businesses say they ‘will close’ if they have a below average Christmas trading season

A new study from Notonthehighstreet has revealed that nearly a quarter (22%) of smaller businesses say they ‘will close in the next 12 months’ if they have a ‘below average’ Christmas trading season, with nearly one in 10 (8%) saying they would shut up shop in a matter of weeks. An additional 12% say that ‘could’ close if they don’t hit their targets.

The online curated marketplace said: ‘The figures lay bare the precarious nature of many small businesses in the UK and the need for consumers to shop with independent traders this Christmas in order to help many survive. The Christmas trading season is key for many small businesses, with 45% of small business owners saying the period is important, and a quarter (24%) going as far as to say it is ‘very important/vital’.

Notonthehighstreet works with 5,000 small businesses and its research, based on a poll of 2,002 adults conducted by Opinium, found that whilst most British shoppers (85%) consider themselves to be someone who supports small businesses, a third (33%) have not purchased anything from a small business in the past six months. More than one in ten (11%) have not in the past year.

The research revealed that when it comes to the Christmas trading season, just 26p in every pound will be spent with small businesses this year, with the lion’s share going to big corporations and chains. This is based on the average UK consumer saying they will spend £362 on products this Christmas – £92 of which will be with small businesses.

The study shows that 30% of Brits know someone who owns a small business that relies on Christmas trade. When asked about the impact on that person and their family should the businesses have a poor Christmas trading season, nearly a third (31%) said that it means they will struggle financially next year, 21% said it will impact their wellbeing and/or mental health, and a fifth (20%) said it will ruin them financially and lead to bankruptcy.

Whilst many Brits aren’t supporting small business as much as they think, the research demonstrates they would be extremely missed if they disappeared. More than 9 in 10 shoppers (91%) say they like shopping with small businesses, the key reasons being: ‘I like to buy British brands’ (38%), ‘The products are bespoke and unique’ (37%) and ‘Your purchase helps the owner and his family rather than lining CEO and shareholder pockets’ (33%)

Claire Davenport, ceo of notonthehighstreet, commented: “The research figures show that whilst Brits love to shop with small businesses and believe they support them, they aren’t quite putting their money where their mouth is.

“It’s clear that many smaller businesses are heavily reliant on the Christmas trading period and a below average Christmas could put them in a precarious situation when it comes to the long term viability of their company. The figures stated are the impact on companies who have a ‘below average’ Christmas, demonstrating that the impact of a very poor Christmas could be far more severe.”

Notonthehighstreet was founded in 2006 by Holly Tucker MBE and Sophie Cornish MBE. The brand connects almost 3 million customers to 5,000 creative small businesses from across the country that sell through its online marketplace.

Headquartered in Richmond, south-west London, notonthehighstreet is led by ceo Claire Davenport and chaired by retail veteran Darren Shapland. It is backed by media and technology company Hubert Burda Media and venture capitalists including Index Ventures, Industry Ventures and Eight Roads Ventures.

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