Unaffiliated independent retailers had a much tougher Christmas than symbol group members, an exclusive poll for The Grocer has revealed.

As many as 58% of unaffiliated indies reported their 2012 festive trading was down on 2011, compared with 33% of symbol group retailers, in the survey by Retail Attack.

Just 6% of unaffiliated indies said sales were up, compared with 23% of symbols.

Sales of seasonal chocolate selection boxes were down for 57% of unaffiliated retailers with just 9% reporting an increase. Meanwhile, 36% of affiliated shopkeepers reported stronger sales of Christmas chocolates, although 28% said sales were down on 2011.

Rory Brick, head of symbol for Palmer & Harvey’s Mace, suggested the stronger performance was down to the support symbol groups provide their members.

“As an affiliated trader it’s easier to prepare for the peaks in seasonal demand,” he said.