Supporting small business this Christmas

Despite inflationary pressures impacting consumer spending, Christmas is still seen as a time of giving, and some shoppers turn to small businesses in a bid to support locally-owned companies rather than larger, well established High Street brands

Supporting small business this Christmas

Recent research found that the British public is planning to spend £85 billion in the six weeks leading up to Christmas this year, which will be welcome news for small business owners hoping to capitalise on consumers’ festive spending. 

Small and medium-sized enterprises are crucial to the UK economy, employing around 16.4 million people and accounting for three fifths of employment and around half the turnover in the UK private sector. These businesses need our support and at Start Up Loans we are passionate about inspiring and supporting existing and aspiring entrepreneurs to make their dream a reality – both with finance and mentoring. 

When small businesses thrive, we all do. That’s why initiatives such as Small Business Saturday, which takes place on the first weekend of December each year, are so important. The campaign encourages consumers to shop locally in the lead up to Christmas. This is an opportunity to shop small, shop local, and support communities. 

Shopping with small businesses has a positive impact on the surrounding area: small businesses create jobs and employ local people, have local owners and serve the communities around them. In fact, a campaign launched by Totally Local in Yorkshire, which encouraged every adult in the UK to spend £5 a week shopping locally, calculated that doing so would mean an additional £13.5 billion would stay in the economies of towns and villages.  

During my time at Start Up Loans, I have had the pleasure of meeting a whole host of fantastic businesses that have been supported by the programme. Many of these can be found in supermarkets across the country, such as Pip & Nut and Dash Water, while Castore has become firmly established in the sporting world. These businesses have achieved their success thanks to their hard work and tenacity and it’s inspiring to hear their stories.

This festive period, I urge people to support small businesses and help them on their own journeys to success. Some businesses I’ve met with recently and which have some perfect gifts for Christmas include: 

Quarter, founded by Fabian Clark and Rohan Radhakrishan 

Quarter is a dedicated Light Spirits brand, started in 2021, designed to broaden people’s choices around moderate alcohol consumption. Believing the alcohol market was either all-or-nothing, while also recognising the growing popularity of low/no alcohol, Fabian and Rohan founded Quarter.

“We recognised that cutting down your alcohol intake is a very different thing from cutting it out altogether, and we felt that there was and is so much more scope to innovate and enjoy cocktails at a lower-ABV (Quarter of the alcohol), rather than having to abstain. We also wanted to provide people with a great tasting alternative to full-strength alcohol and create a product that offers our consumers the freedom to drink without the possible side effects of higher-alcohol options.  So, we created Quarter, a manifestation of today’s growing wants and needs, and we kicked the brand off with our first quarter-strength spirit, ‘Quarter Gin,’” the founders explained.

Philly & Friends, founded by Vese Aghoghovbia

Philly & Friends is children’s lifestyle and toy brand, on a mission to add colour and diversity to the playroom while empowering literacy in underprivileged children. Vese creates beautifully crafted children’s books, dolls, puzzles, cards, wall art and products designed to instil confidence and self-love through the power of representation. All products are based on the character Philly, who was inspired by Vese’s daughter. 

Founded in 2019, Vese’s mission was to create a Black children’s character that kids everywhere could love and identify with. When Vese had her daughter in 2017, she found few quality children’s books that featured a Black or minority ethnic main character. At the time, less than 1% of children’s books in the UK featured a Black main character and she soon set out to change that. 

“Philly & Friends started out as a children’s book and has branched out so much that my daughter now calls me a doll maker. The dolls are handcrafted; love, attention, care and so much time goes into each one and it would make both of us so happy to see them all find a loving home this Christmas,” said founder Vese.

There are plenty of benefits to shopping small this Christmas. Shopping locally can help to reduce your carbon footprint, with less travel required for the shopper and often a more streamlined supply chain meaning small businesses can be more transparent about their sustainability credentials. 

The personalised experience also makes shopping with smaller retailers more special than with larger chains. Founders are often involved in every stage of the product development, from creation to selling it on the shop floor, which gives customers a sense of the person behind the brand. 

There’s no time like the present. This Christmas let’s all help our small businesses thrive and perhaps become the next big household name. Start Up Loans urges everyone to shop local this Christmas.

1 https://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2023/10/christmas-spending-inflation/

2 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/business-population-estimates-2022/business-population-estimates-for-the-uk-and-regions-2022-statistical-release-html#:~:text=Nonetheless%2C%20SMEs%20account%20for%20three,%C2%A32.1%20trillion%20(51%25)

3 https://totallylocally.org/2019/03/the-5-concept/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Bearman
Richard Bearman
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