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Nearly three-fifths of small business leaders are expecting revenues to increase this quarter when compared to the first three months of 2023.
SME owners are also predicting an average revenue increase of 10 per cent this quarter year-on-year, thanks to a boost from the King’s Coronation weekend, according to the latest quarterly Barclays SME Barometer.
As business owners look forward to the celebrations, SMEs across the hospitality and leisure sector expect the long weekend to bring in an additional £180m of revenue.
This follows a successful first quarter of the year for UK SMEs with more than half (56 per cent) reporting a rise in revenue from Q4 2022 and 60 per cent reporting a year-on-year rise in revenue from Q1 2022. Similarly, small business optimism is at the highest level in a year, with 43 per cent of SME leaders feeling positive about their future.
These figures are supported by data from Barclaycard Payments, which processes 1 in 3 debit and credit card payments in the UK, which shows a rise of 1.4 per cent in the value of payments to SMEs in Q1 compared to the same period last year.
As final preparations get underway ahead of the festivities, two in five (40 per cent) of hospitality businesses expect the Coronation weekend to provide a welcome boost to sales.
This in part, is helped by a third of businesses who want to take advantage of the additional licensing hours across the Friday, Saturday, Sunday of the Coronation weekend from 11pm -1am. Furthermore, a quarter (25 per cent) of SMEs in the hospitality sector expect to see an increase in support for their business from the local community.
Commenting on the findings, Sjuul van der Leeuw, CEO of Deployteq said: “These findings are further evidence of the great British bounce back, with SMEs working hard to grow, despite underlining challenges such as high energy costs. As organisations move forward, key to increasing revenue will be reaching new customers, yet far too many companies still rely on outdated manual marketing processes, which are ineffective and expensive.
“The time has come for SMEs to harness the power of fully automated marketing platforms, which allow businesses to interact with new and existing customers through highly personalised and relevant communication channels. It’s often said that the customer is King – even during the coronation weekend – so it’s high time companies took the next step forward to deliver growth in the long term,” he added.
Despite the increased optimism, wider concerns remain, as almost three quarters of SMEs (73 per cent) say they are worried about the impact that the cost of energy will have on their business. Moreover, just over two-fifths (41 per cent) say they will need to increase their prices to cover the costs, which will impact their competitiveness.
Yet, many SMEs plan to plough investment back into their businesses, following the expected rise in revenues. Almost four in ten businesses plan to increase their number of employees over the next quarter, resulting in an average of eight new recruits per business. This is the largest expected increase in new hires for SMEs since Q1 2022.
Colin O’Flaherty, head of SME at Barclaycard, commented: “It’s great to see that businesses plan to make the most of the Coronation weekend and are hoping to see increases in revenue, as consumers take advantage of the long weekend and enjoy eating and drinking out.
“It’s unsurprising that in the immediate term, there are still wider concerns for businesses, whether that’s energy prices or underlying cost of living issues. SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy and with a series of bank holidays coming up in May, it’s more important than ever to make sure we support local businesses at every opportunity.”