Insurance firm Axa said a report it commissioned showed that shoppers stated stress is their overriding emotion during Christmas shopping and that as a result they are turning to the more personal and less frantic offering that small retailers offer.
Crowds are named the main source of anxiety during shopping.
With British households set to spend an estimated £5.2bn on presents from local shops over the Christmas period, specialist food and drink retailers are set to benefit the most, with an additional £2.3bn set to be spent locally.
Small shops were voted the most enjoyable place to do Christmas shopping after markets and fairs, with just 23 per cent saying they prefer big stores.
Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA, said: “Small shops can offer an antidote to the manic buying seen elsewhere. Small shops can benefit by organising things like walks, choir services and family event.”