More than half (55 per cent) of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) saw revenue increases in the second quarter of this year against 2021, reveals the latest quarterly Barclays SME Barometer1. And a similar number (54 per cent) of small businesses also expect further gains this quarter despite concerns about a looming recession
On average, hospitality and leisure small businesses predict a 21% year-on-year increase in their turnover for July to September
Data from Barclaycard Payments shows an annual rise of 7.3 per cent2 in the value and 18.1 per cent in the volume of payments made to SMEs between April and June this year.
The research found that to support this growth, a third (34 per cent) of SMEs increased their number of full-time employees in Q2, recruiting an average of seven new employees each.
This trend is also expected to continue in quarter three, as on average small businesses predict a further 10 per cent increase in their turnover for July to September, against the same period a year ago.
This reported revenue growth comes, however, at a time when more than half (53 per cent) of small business leaders are pessimistic about the prospects of the UK economy, with 77 per cent concerned over rising cost of bills and inflation, 77 per cent fearing recession and 74 per cent worried about the soaring cost of energy.
Last quarter, 51 per cent of businesses were concerned that increased living costs would impact consumer spending, and 28 per cent feared it would make them less competitive as they would need to increase prices.
This has increased in Q3, with nearly three in five (59 per cent) businesses worried about consumer spending decreasing and 41 per cent now worried that rising costs will impact their competitiveness.
Self-confidence and business investment
Despite the backdrop of uncertainty, 83 per cent of SMEs are neutral (45 per cent) or optimistic (38 per cent) about their own business’ prospects, with half (50 per cent) describing their current cashflow as strong.
More than three in five (68 per cent) SMEs say they plan to invest in their business over the next 12 months, turning to recruitment, marketing and technology to shore up their operations. On average over the next 12 months, more than a third (38 per cent) of SMEs say they intend to invest an average of £13,855 on recruitment; 30 per cent an average of £9,948 on marketing; and 25 per cent an average of £11,082 on new tech and £10,696 upgrading existing technology respectively.
August Bank Holiday provides boost to sales
Among businesses trading across the August Bank Holiday weekend, more than a third (33 per cent) said they wouldn’t have usually been open, but extended their working hours to generate more cash. The long weekend comes with high expectations, with half (49 per cent) of SMEs that are open expecting it to be their biggest weekend of sales for the year so far this year, beating out Easter and the Jubilee four-day weekend.
Colin O’Flaherty, Head of SME at Barclaycard Payments, said:
“The current operating landscape brings a host of challenges for businesses, but as we saw throughout the pandemic, SMEs are resilient and our research shows they are proving this again this in the face of rising costs and inflation.
“We are confident they will prove adaptable and innovative to meet the challenge, but now more than ever, the nation must pull together to continue its support for local SMEs and provide them with the support they need.”