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Two thirds of small businesses are confident of a summer boost

  • More than three quarters of hospitality firms are expecting a post lockdown revival to business
  • But 45% of SMEs need to be Covid secure ahead of re-opening
  • 14% will use their cash surplus to fund any investment required to open, while 13% hope to borrow from their bank

More than two thirds of small companies are confident of a boost to their business in the summer if lockdown restrictions are relaxed, research by Recognise reveals.

More than three quarters of SMEs in the hospitality sector are confident of a seasonal trading uplift, the most of any sector.

The research, comes hot on the heels of the Prime Minister’s announcement of a roadmap to freeing the UK of coronavirus restrictions by the summer. If everything goes to plan, all legal limits on social contact will be removed by 21 June, with many retailers and hospitality venues enjoying more freedom from 12 April.

However, smaller businesses are also expecting to have to spend more money to get themselves ready for the summer, with a total of 45% of all SMEs surveyed planning to invest in PPE and protective measures for their staff and customers, rising to almost three quarters of hospitality businesses.

And while SMEs are confident, Recognise’s research found that many still have some niggling doubts: 44% are worried about keeping their employees and customers safe, 37% of firms fear COVID-19 restrictions will still be in place and could hamper business, 26% are concerned about replacing customers lost during lockdown, while 20% are concerned that customers will be too worried to return.

Jason Oakley, CEO of Recognise Bank, said: “Our research reveals just what a complex situation small businesses are in currently. They are clearly confident and looking forward to getting back to business in the summer, and trading will bring a much-needed boost to many firms that have had their income reduced by lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions.

“However, they also know that re-opening brings its own challenges. Will people feel safe enough to return to shops and restaurants in particular, and how can they ensure their employees and customers remain safe? Whatever happens, it is clear that in order for businesses to be able to trade this summer, they are going to have to invest heavily in additional PPE for staff and increased protective measures for their premises at a time when money is already tight.”

Recognise’s research also found that of those businesses planning to invest ahead of the summer, 14% will use their cash surplus, 14% will turn to government loan schemes, 13% hope to borrow from their bank, while 12% will dip into their personal savings to fund the changes their businesses need.

Recognise surveyed the bosses and decision makers of 500 SMEs across the UK. Its research found:

  • 67% of all businesses are confident of a summer boost to trade if COVID-19 restrictions are lifted or reduced, rising to 76% of hospitality firms. In contrast, a total of 12% of SMEs of are not so confident.
  • 45% of all businesses plan to invest in PPE or protective measures for their staff and customers, rising to 73% of firms in the hospitality sector
  • Other planned investment ahead of the summer includes:
    • Extra staff or getting back to normal staff numbers – a total of 38% of all businesses, rising to 51% of hospitality businesses said they would consider hiring extra staff or getting back staff to normal numbers
    • New products and services – 23% of all businesses, rising to 39% of hospitality firms surveyed said that they would consider introducing new products and services
    • New equipment and IT – 22% of all businesses said they would invest in new equipment and IT
    • Increased promotional activity – 19% of all businesses, rising to 27% in the hospitality sector would undertake increased promotional activity ahead of the summer
  • SMEs have a number of concerns over whether they’ll experience a summer boost, including:
    • Keeping employees and customers safe – a total 44% of all firms, rising to 67% of hospitality firms are worried about keeping employees and customers safe
    • Being able to trade because of COVID-19 restrictions – 37% of all businesses, rising to 61% of hospitality firms are concerned about being able to trade because of COVID-19 restrictions
    • Replacing customers lost during lockdown – 26% of all SMEs, rising to 33% of professional services firms and 36% of property firms are worried about replacing customers lost during lockdown
    • Customers will be afraid to return – 20% of all firms, rising to 30% of hospitality businesses stated that they were worried that customers will be afraid to return

The research was carried out amongst a nationally representative sample of 500 senior decision makers in British SMEs on behalf of Recognise Bank by 3Gem.

Contact for media enquiries

Paul Beadle, Head of Communications, Recognise Bank

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