It has been a year like no other, and one that’s thrown up a series of obstacles that almost no one could have ever predicted or planned for. But, amidst the many and varied challenges, there have been some bright spots. One of those is the increased spotlight that’s been placed on small businesses and the important role they play in our communities and the economy at large. And now, based on the findings of a new Xero survey, we can reveal a promise consumers are making to support them and their success this year and beyond. 

Ahead of the festive season, we conducted a survey analysing the shopping intentions and behaviours of 1,000 Australians, and how they feel about purchasing from small businesses for Christmas presents this year. Our insights reveal who’s at the top of our gift lists, how much we’re willing to spend, and where and when we plan to buy. 

Support for small business this festive season

For me, the most heartening finding is that most Australians are committing to support small businesses after a very challenging year. Almost one in three (30%) Australians are planning to buy more presents from small businesses this year compared to last. This promise extends beyond Christmas, with three in five (61%) planning to continue supporting small businesses into the New Year. In fact, many want to spread the festive cheer, with three in five (63%) saying they would encourage their family and friends to buy presents from small businesses. 

What drives this small business promise is the warm, fuzzy feeling shoppers get when they support small business. As many as three in five (63%) feel supportive when shopping for Christmas gifts from small businesses. It also brings a sense of belonging to the local community for some (38%) and even sparks Christmas joy for one in five (22%). It’s amazing to see Aussies’ plans to rally around small businesses and make the holiday spirit truly felt from home to home.

At the top of my own list are luxe accessories from Barc for Pets for my beloved cocker spaniel, Zeus. I will also be dropping by Altina Drinks, based in Canberra, to pick up some special alcohol-free beverages to enjoy over the break. And, in contrast to Altina’s offerings, are some truly boundary-pushing micro-brew beers from Capital Brewing Co. – a stop I will definitely be making this Christmas.  

Some of the key considerations driving Aussies’ preference for buying Christmas gifts from small businesses are the desire to support independent stores (49% of respondents) and more bespoke or ‘quirky’ selections to choose from (31% of respondents). Clothing items (31%) and artisan jewellery or accessories (24%) are top of Aussies’ wish lists of things to buy from small businesses. 

Young shoppers are looking to treat themselves this Christmas

Although the majority of Australians are looking forward to buying presents for their significant others (62%), a third (33%) of survey respondents have someone else on the top of their gift list – themselves. This is particularly prominent with Generation Z (born between mid-to-late 1990s up to the early 2010s), with half (52%) of 18 to 24 year-old respondents living by the ‘treat yourself’ philosophy. 

This reveals how important self-love is to a large number of Australians, particularly young people. It seems that Australians are looking to this Christmas as the perfect time to treat themselves after a challenging year. 

Most of us will combine online and in-store shopping

Among different age groups, we found that 18 to 24 year olds are most likely to combine in-store and online shopping (61%) this Christmas, although 30 to 34 year olds (51%) and 55 to 59 year olds (46%) are likely to combine both as well. Of the age groups we surveyed, 40% of 55 to 59 year olds said they would shop in store, making them bigger in-store shoppers than younger age groups. 

Of those people who choose to shop online, most do so due to convenience (56%). However, one in five (21%) say they would choose to shop online this year due to COVID-19 safety concerns. 

Overall, Australians have an emotional connection to our small business community. This feeling seems to have heightened during the pandemic, as many recognise the struggle and hardships they’ve faced this year. Whether it’s their go-to local coffee roaster or a favourite independent clothing retailer, the desire to support small business has been kindled in Australians in 2020 – and what better way to show their support than by buying from them over the holidays.

Written by: Angus Capel – Xero

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