Jun 12, 2020
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Small businesses struggle but lockdown easing could boost gift spend

Jun 12, 2020

Some small businesses in the UK are on a knife-edge and many could go under, new research suggested on Friday. A survey commissioned by curated online marketplace Notonthehighstreet claims one in 12 small businesses could close “in a matter of weeks” with 55% saying trade is suffering due to lockdown, and just 30% able to operate as normal.

Gift events could be key this year post-lockdown - Photo: Public domain

But there’s some good news as “bumper Father’s Day sales are expected, as half of Britons go 50 days without seeing their parents”.

Yet the main thrust of the research is pessimistic and 53% of small business owners admit they’re at risk of closing in the next year. Only 33% feel confident enough to say “there is no chance my business will fold in the next 12 months”. 

The general gloom is understandable given that 41% of Britons say they haven’t shopped with any small businesses during lockdown. And while 87% of medium-sized businesses in the UK have been able to trade to some degree, just 73% of micro businesses and 60% of sole traders have been able to. 

However, 16% of smaller businesses say they’re doing better than before and half of them say they’re doing much better.

And the company said the 5,000 businesses that sell through its platform are among the latter. They’ve adapted quickly to changes in customer behaviour since lockdown, and sales “are the best on record for the months of April and May”.

As mentioned, Father’s Day is the next key shopping event and it should be even more important than ever in 2020. The firm’s research showed 41% of Britons saying lockdown is or was the longest they’ve ever gone without seeing their parents. 

Among those who will be buying presents for their father, the average spend will be £40.60 – and Britons plan to spend 70% of that figure with small businesses.

Consumers have still been buying gifts during lockdown too and the retailer said that it’s seen a spike in letterbox gifts and products being sent to addresses other than the customer’s own.

Looking ahead to the reopening of physical shops on Monday, many small business owners are less than optimistic about the future of the high street. Some 56% think the high street and physical shops “will struggle” to bounce back and 12% think the high street is doomed.

But there’s more optimism about smaller businesses more widely, with 44% saying those that are able to adapt to new technology like online sales will be able to bounce back, with 11% believing that they will do better than before lockdown.

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