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    Small businesses battling hurdles this festive season

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    The festive trading period is often a lifeline for many small businesses but the landscape is looking very different this year, as suggested by a recent report.

    New research by small business insurance provider, Simply Business, has found that the festive period is vital for SMEs with 40 per cent of SME owners stating that over 20 per cent of their annual takings take place over the festive trading period alone.

    In the lead up to December, small business owners reported rising costs and inflation (69 per cent), not being able to pay their bills (49 per cent) and a negative change in consumer confidence and spending (44 per cent) as their top three concerns.

    Almost four in five (79 per cent) small business owners have reaffirmed how important it is for consumers to shop locally and support independent businesses over Christmas – two in five (38 per cent) say that it is ‘absolutely critical’ for the future of their business.

    Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, said, “Small businesses have been dealt a very challenging hand in 2023, with rising energy costs and business rates limiting growth opportunities for many. The festive trading period is a lifeline for many small business owners – four in five stress how important it is to shop locally and support small businesses over Christmas – and we encourage consumers to think about them when doing their shopping this year.

    “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local communities, and with over five million of them in the UK, together they contribute trillions of pounds to the economy. They are quite simply the backbone of the economy and need our support more than ever.”

    It was reported earlier that a fifth (21 per cent) of small business owners say they will have to scale back their families’ festive celebrations as a result of money being tight.

    Small businesses are facing a plethora of challenges in the run up to Christmas and the recent surge in shoplifting across the UK is directly impacting independent retailers, a recent report has stated, citing half of small business owners (50 per cent) who have reported shoplifting as a problem.

    Recent findings from the Simply Business SME Insights Report state that over half (57 per cent) of respondents have lost over £250 to shoplifting this year alone, with almost a fifth (16 per cent) saying they have lost between £1,001- £5,000. Naturally, this can disproportionately impact smaller businesses who simply do not have the financial reserves to be able to just write this stock off.

    As a result, many small businesses have been forced to implement measures to prevent shoplifting, including enhanced surveillance with CCTV cameras (34 per cent), increased staff presence and customer engagement (30 per cent) and joining forces with other local shops to spot and report a crime (20 per cent).

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