Hope springs eternal — and seasonal — for UK retailers

SMALL and independent retailers in the UK have high hopes for the coming year.

Confidence in business growth came from 89 percent of those canvassed in an annual survey of independent retail and hospitality business owners. It was conducted on behalf of American Express and Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday UK
Photo: Small Business Saturday UK

While growth expectations rose 30 percentage points year-on-year, respondents identified a range of ongoing challenges: rising costs of goods and services (31 percent) and energy costs (30 percent) among them.

But almost half of small business owners (48 percent) said they were “excited” and 45 percent “confident” about the next six months.

American Express founded Small Business Saturday, which this year takes place on December 2. The small business campaign engages millions of consumers — who spend up to £774m in one day.

Businesses plan revenue-boosting tactics, and 86 percent see the festive period as a vital driver. Nearly half (49 percent) are creating in-store events to drive footfall, while a similar number (48 percent) are introducing exclusive products or services for the Christmas season. The research revealed unity among business owners; just over half (51 percent) plan to collaborate with other organisations.

Dan Edelman, GM of UK Merchant Services at American Express, said independent businesses were holding their ground and “looking ahead with determination and optimism”.

Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday UK, said small businesses need a boost after sustaining all the recent challenges. “It’s vital that the nation throws its weight behind (the effort),” she said. “They make our communities, our lives, and our economy so much richer. We need to help small businesses turn the seeds of optimism this winter into flourishing growth in the new year.”