Research from First Data, the business technology provider, reveals long queues (42%), loud Christmas music (13%), not enough tills/service points (11%) and stores that are too warm (10%) are Brits' top bugbears while shopping on the high street during the festive season. This research identifies the biggest pain points for consumers, as business owners prepare their operations now for the approaching festive season.

Independent businesses can appeal to customers

In a survey of 1,000 UK consumers, 1 in 5 (21%) admitted they wouldn't shop at independent retail stores during the festive period because they believe they are too busy. However, a third (33%) said in-store technology that speeds up queues, would tempt them to do more Christmas shopping on the high street this year.

Both those in the 18-24 (46%) and 55+ (48%) age bracket were the biggest lovers of browsing on the high street for the best deals, where they can interact with staff and soak up the festive atmosphere, while those aged 45-54 prefer little human interaction and to buy Christmas gifts online and get them delivered (36%).

Bespoke shopping experiences are favoured

For those who like to shop at independent retail stores at Christmas (59%), for over half (52%) personalisation was a key draw - as they believe independent retail stores offer a more personalised experience compared to high street chain competitors. Personalised discounts for products/services (32%), Christmas gift-wrapping (18%) and knowledgeable staff offering personal shopping advice (16%) were also on shoppers' agenda and would entice them to do more Christmas shopping on the high street.

Bah humbug, where's my discount?!

Despite many consumers welcoming the festive cheer from retailers at this time of year, almost a third (27%) of shoppers in the UK admitted they don't like to see businesses getting into the festive spirit at all, with 1 in 5 (18%) saying they hate the consumerism of it all.

Despite the warm, fuzzy, festive appreciation for independent retailers, over half of shoppers in the UK (52%) believe high street chain stores are better at offering discounts on sales days like Black Friday and Boxing Day - signalling SMEs are missing an opportunity.

Top concerns for Brits when asked about shopping at independent retail stores during the festive season were around value for money, stock availability and payment acceptance. Almost two thirds (61%) of shoppers are worried they won't get as good a deal in an independent retail store or they won't have their item in stock. Salons and restaurants/cafes were among the types of small businesses dubbed ‘the worst offenders' of being ‘unprepared' for the Christmas rush while retailers and bars and pubs were cited as the most prepared.

Convenience in the transaction process

When it comes to payments 1 in 5 (21%) UK shoppers expressed their concern at SMEs ability to offer alternative payment methods to cash - admitting the lack of options is a reason why they don't like to shop at independent retail stores at Christmas time.

Richard Simon, Commercial Director at First Data commented on the findings: "Christmas shopping can be stressful time and this research highlights that it is essential independent retailers listen to what consumers want in order to maximise their profitability this festive season.

"Busy shoppers are looking for a fast, hassle-free Christmas shopping experience. Convenience is paramount, eliminating long queues and ensuring there is a smooth payment mechanism is vital to offering a quality service.