Tuesday 17 November 2020 6:00 am

Small businesses 'more prepared' for second lockdown, research shows

Save our SMEs

Two-thirds of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in England felt more prepared for the current national lockdown compared to when restrictions were first introduced in March. 

Businesses said they were more prepared for the new coronavirus rules, under which hospitality venues and non-essential stores have been ordered to close.

Read more: ‘A horror story’: Brexit and Covid halt international trade for UK SMEs

The latest research showed that 36 per cent of small firms said they were better prepared mentally, 32 per cent said they had made their business more resilient, and 14 per cent cited improved government support.

The closure of all but essential retailers and fears over catching coronavirus has led to more consumers shopping online this year.

Just under half of small businesses surveyed by Barclaycard Payments said they had increased their online presence since the pandemic hit the UK in March.

In total, 67 per cent said website improvements had made the most positive impact, while 66 per cent said they had put more services online and 64 per cent had upped social media advertising.

Meanwhile, 50 per cent had invested in improving digital skills, either for themselves or their staff.

E-commerce transactions at SME merchants were up 6 per cent compared to last quarter, and up 16 per cent year-on-year.

Konrad Kelling, head of small business at Barclaycard Payments, said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for SMEs across all sectors, so it’s reassuring to see that many have been able to take advantage of the lessons learned during the first lockdown to adapt their business ensuring that they are able to continue to serve their customers.  

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“At Barclaycard, we want to support all of our clients and are working closely with those impacted by current circumstances by providing care packages to help them navigate the challenges they face.”

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