New figures released today ahead of next week’s Government pandemic roadmap suggest that small and medium sized businesses are rallying for 2021, with 32 per cent saying they are prepared for the end of lockdown.
The figures from Barclaycard Payments SME Barometer indicate that SMEs predict an 8.1 per cent rise in revenue in 2021, and nearly four in ten (39 per cent) say they are optimistic about their prospects.
Four in 10 SMEs think that this current lockdown will be the last strict or national one, and a quarter are reporting that their output has already surpassed, or returned to, pre-pandemic levels.
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However, there is still apprehension when it comes to restrictions that affect businesses in some way with only 27 per cent thinking restrictions that impact them will end by April, rising to 49 per cent by June.
When economic recovery does get underway, the top ways SMEs are preparing to take advantage of it is by: increasing marketing spend, with 62 per cent having done so or planning to; saving cash (42 per cent); or changing their offering to cater to customers once life opens back up to a ‘new normal’ (42 per cent).
SMEs expect the greatest growth opportunities in recovery will be increased consumer footfall (21 per cent) and supply chains returning to normal (17 per cent).
Ecommerce will also continue to be key; though overall spend (including in-store transactions), was significantly down, Barclaycard Payments data for the first five weeks of 2021 shows the average daily value of online SME transactions is up six per cent compared to the same period in 2020.
Small businesses are optimistic about their employment ability as lockdown eases. Three in 10 (30 per cent) SMEs expect their number of full-time employees to increase over the course of 2021.
Since the start of the pandemic a quarter (25 per cent) of SMEs say they have seen an increase in job applications. Transport businesses have seen the largest rise (41 per cent), with more than half (52 per cent) of SMEs in this industry believing a smaller business, or working away from the city centre, is becoming more appealing to prospective candidates.