More convenience stores than ever will be open on Christmas Day this year.

Though big chains such as Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Tesco and The Co-op Group are choosing to keep their small stores closed on 25 December, many smaller retailers have said they plan to open for at least a few hours.

Nearly half of McColl’s Retail Group stores will be open on Christmas Day. The c-store and CTN chain, which trialled Christmas Day openings last year, told The Grocer 578 of its 1,315 stores, or 44%, would be open. Last year, it opened 525 stores. In January, CEO James Lancaster told The Grocer: “It takes a while for people to know you’re open but it is growing nicely. We will be opening more this year.”

One Stop said 135, or about 20%, of its company-owned stores would be open on 25 December - about 20 more stores than Christmas Day 2013. A spokeswoman said the stores would open “on a voluntary basis for a four-hour period.”

Many of its franchise stores would also be open, the spokeswoman confirmed. “Within our franchise estate, roughly half of our independent retailers are choosing to take advantage of this opportunity - which represents around 40 stores out of those currently trading with us,” she added.

Meanwhile, retail buying group Nisa said it expected many of its retailers to be open on Christmas Day based on previous years.

Stores under 3,000 sq ft are permitted to open on Christmas Day in the UK and many indies decide to take advantage of the lack of competition from their larger supermarket rivals to trade on the day.

Though convenience stores run by the ­multiples are permitted to open, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and The Co-op all told The Grocer they would not be opening any stores on 25 December.