Did you know? Small businesses contribute 52% of the £2.2 trillion turnover generated by the private sector in the UK.

It’s undoubtedly important, therefore, to support small, local, and independent businesses whenever we can. This is especially true at Christmas when the average shopper spends almost £600 on Christmas gifts alone.

It’s all too easy to shop for convenience and load up an online shopping basket with just a few clicks, but do we ever really think about the true cost of neglecting smaller, independent businesses?

Spending our money locally, particularly in the run up to Christmas, ensures that we support our communities and allow small businesses to thrive. Here are five ways that you can support small business this Christmas, and the benefits of doing so.

1. Visit local makers markets

When you shop small, you get more than just a purchase. By supporting local creatives and moseying around artisan makers markets, you receive a completely personal experience from start to finish.

Perusing stalls that sell handmade items allows you to hunt down the perfect bespoke gift for that loved one who simply has everything. One of the best things about shopping small business is finding unique, one-of-a-kind products you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Plus, you will often have the chance to meet the maker who lovingly handcrafted the gift. Meeting and chatting to business owners is a wonderful way to discover more about the items you’re buying and learn about the business you’re supporting. The money you spend will go directly to allowing that business owner to continue doing what they love.

Check out some of the markets taking place in East Sussex this Christmas where, if you are able to, you can shop a variety of unique last minute Christmas gifts, all while supporting small businesses from across the county.

2. Buy local produce 

Whether it’s for the turkey and trimmings on the big day, or for family meals at home during the run up to the 25th, there are several ways to support local businesses when it comes to Christmas food and produce.

Opt for your local butchers, greengrocers, bakery, and farm shops when picking up ingredients for Christmas recipes. There are always great deals to be found, plus it simply tastes better when you know your green beans were grown lovingly and locally by Bill in Arlington.

The benefits don’t stop there – the items you buy will almost certainly be fresher, of better quality, and range in choice far more than what you might find at the supermarket.

Another great advantage to buying produce that’s been grown or made locally is that you aren’t contributing to the environmental impacts of importation. There’s a much shorter ‘fork-to-field’ journey. Find out other ways you can have an eco-friendly Christmas with our top tips.

3. Shop online

We all know how much more convenient online shopping is than heading out and about. Stocking up on stocking fillers from the comfort of our own home? Yes please!

And with COVID restrictions tightening up as we approach the depths of winter, shopping online instead of venturing outside can be tempting. It’s important, though, to continue supporting local businesses even when staying at home, if you can afford to.

Instead of making a beeline for the obvious big online retailers, why not check if your favourite local shop has a website or social media page? You can also support small UK businesses by visiting websites such as Etsy, Not On The High Street, or Shop Small Love Indie, which are all home to thousands of small creative businesses and makers.

4. Support family-owned businesses

Family-owned businesses put a lot of emphasis on loyalty, and often spend time and effort building strong customer relationships. Whether it’s a coffee shop round the corner, a local family florist, or a bespoke jewellers, we bet there’s a plethora of businesses right on your doorstep that are family-owned.

Family business owners are more likely to have a personal interest in their business, and in turn this provides a far better experience for you as a customer. More thought and care will go into everything from customer service through to return and exchange policies.

With Christmas being a time for family and giving back, there’s no better time to support family run businesses within your local community, if you can.

5. Like, follow, and share!

Unlike high street retailers, small businesses rarely have a huge budget to blow on marketing and advertising and rely ultimately on word of mouth. That’s where you come in.

In order to offer your support long after you’ve visited or shopped somewhere, make sure to like and follow social media pages, leave a review of your experience, and share their website with your nearest and dearest.

Even if you aren’t able to buy anything yourself, sharing and spreading awareness of businesses is completely free and means you’re still showing support for your favourite brands.

So, whether you’re still doing last minute Christmas shopping, or panicking about where to buy the Christmas turkey, make sure to support your community this festive season and shop local!