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‘Tis the season to be jolly: The importance of Christmas to UK small firms is unveiled

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To further support its Small Business Saturday initiative, which took place on 5 December, American Express aimed to highlight the significance of the festive period to small retailers and the importance of shopping small during the Christmas season.

According to the report, with the exception of “non-specialised food stores” such as supermarkets, all small retailers have seen a notable uplift in the value of sales in December relative to other months.

In terms of what American Express termed the “other non-food stores” category, which included stores selling items such as games, jewellery and books, the sector saw the largest percentage of Christmas sales across all small retailers. In 2014, this category accounted for 33 per cent 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 per cent of the total, followed by “non-store retailing,” which included online and mail order (16 per cent) and household goods (13 per cent).

The search for the perfect dress to wear to the office Christmas party also helped drive sales, with small clothing shops experiencing the most dramatic variation in the value of sales. In December 2014 sales of small clothing retailers were worth £459bn, a 110 per cent increase on sales in February, which was the lowest performing month for the sector.

Duncan Murray of 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.”

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