Nearly half of Brits plan to shun big chain stores this Christmas as they seek more thoughtful presents – to make up for not seeing loved ones.

A study of 2,000 adults found 51 per cent are going to go out of their way to support small businesses this year, with 48 per cent wanting to completely avoid buying from large corporations.

And more than half said their shopping habits will be different this festive season, as a fifth are planning to leave behind their usual ‘go-to’ presents.

Instead, 16 per cent want to be more creative with the gifts they buy while 15 per cent will spend more time looking for more personalised items.

More than half (54 per cent) believe more thoughtful presents will make up for not seeing loved ones, while 31 per cent want to put more effort into the presents they buy to make up for a difficult year.

Lisa Jacobs, Europe managing director at Funding Circle, which commissioned the study, said: “After an extraordinary year, we’re all thinking more about the Christmas presents we’re buying and where we’re buying them from.

“It’s brilliant to see shoppers championing their local small and independent businesses this festive season, finding gifts that are unique and well-suited to their loved ones.”

The research, which was carried out to mark Small Business Saturday on December 5th, also found 32 per cent of adults prefer buying gifts for others from small businesses.

Only 14 per cent opt for chains.

Almost six in 10 (58 per cent) put this down to finding more unique gifts from small businesses, while others like that they get a good feeling from supporting family or local businesses (54 per cent) and have more of an experience (24 per cent).

More than half are even willing to pay an average of £26 more for a unique, personal gift from a small business than those from a chain.

Another 53 per cent also said they are not going to be enticed by offers in big stores when Christmas shopping this year.

The study, conducted via OnePoll also found 39 per cent admitted 2020 has made them realise how important small businesses are, and 56 per cent believe they need the nation’s support more than ever.

Mike Turner, along with Krisi Smith, is co-founder of Bird & Blend Tea Co – a Funding Circle customer and independent, award-winning tea company based in Brighton which has shops across the UK as well as an online store.
They sell 80 different blends of tea at a time, such as liquorice, coconut and mulled cider.

Mike said: “Providing a personalised touch seems more relevant this year.

“People are creating bespoke gift boxes that remind them of moments or emotional connections with that person.

“So if you have memories of trips to the ‘pick ‘n mix’ at the cinema with your brother as a youngster, you might choose the rhubarb and custard flavour tea.

“Customers can order gifts from us now and then ask for us to ship it in the last week before Christmas so people don’t open their presents early.

“We gift wrap orders and send them out with handwritten cards rather than have them printed so people who can’t be with their loved ones at Christmas can give that personal touch.

“Lots of people want to support their smaller, independent companies too.”

Another small business which has experienced growth with a Funding Circle loan is RocketGardens.co.uk .

The family business in Cornwall grows and delivers vegetable patches to green-fingered customers across the UK who want their own patch.

They sow and grow thousands of organic vegetable plug plants, herbs and potted fruits ready to be delivered to gardens at just the right time for planting out.

Over the past year, sales have gone up by 500 per cent and they’re now ramping up for a busy Christmas as people look for novel gifts for friends and family.

Founder, Michael Kitchen said: “We have found that customers really like the idea of growing their own vegetable patch and they then decide to buy them as a gift for someone else.

“You can give someone a voucher and we will then deliver them their own organic garden patch.

“People want to avoid plastics, to be more organic and to grow and eat their own vegetables.

“For many people they might be in the city and have never grown anything before so we hold their hand during the process.”

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