Source: Phone poll carried out by The Grocer

Sales of all Christmas-related groceries will hit £1.07bn this year, up 4% on last year, according to the British Retail Consortium and Nielsen, news that has given cheer to independent retailers across the country.

The majority of small shop owners approached by The Grocer are confident business will be brisk this Christmas and do not think they will be affected by a decrease in consumer spending, which larger retailers fear could affect Christmas trading.

"Our shop has always done well during the Christmas period, especially on days such as Boxing Day when people want to buy key items such as milk or cigarettes but don't want to do a big shop," says one retailer. "We expect sales to be strong this year as well."

Many small shops feel that opening on Christmas Day, mainly in the morning for a couple of hours, is advantageous because it emphasises the importance of having a local shop for people.

"We open on Christmas Day for a few hours in the morning so that people can buy key ingredients that they may have suddenly realised they have forgotten, such as milk, cream, bread and even mince pies," according to one retailer. "Sales aren't that big but by opening we demonstrate to local people the benefits of having a small shop that will save them in a crisis because the larger retailers are closed. We think this helps keep people loyal to our shop the following year."

Another adds: "It's amazing how many people use our shop on Christmas Day. People like to go for morning walks and they pop in for the odd ingredient. It pleases them that their small shop is open and it builds a sense of community."

Not all small shop owners believe opening on Christmas Day is worthwhile, however. "It is the one day that we shut our shop every year because we don't think there is much need for a shop to be open when everyone is at home celebrating," says one. "I don't want to have three hours at work just to sell a couple of pints of milk. The demand just isn't there to make it worthwhile."

Independent retailers are also divided on the benefits of Christmas merchandising. While some say that they are increasing the size of displays for key Christmas convenience store items, such as chocolates, wine, beer and flowers, most say that there is little need to make changes to their shops over the festive period.