Small business confidence swells amid bank holiday boom predictions

·2 min read
A view of a busy Carnaby Street in Central London as the heatwave continues in England. (Photo by Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Some 60% of hospitality and leisure SMEs expect an increase in revenue across the weekend, according to a new report. Photo: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

UK small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are betting on an August bank holiday boom, with confidence in an industry monitor returning to pre-pandemic levels.

According to a report from Barclaycard Payments, which processes nearly half of the nation's debit and credit card transactions, 60% of hospitality and leisure SMEs expect an increase in revenue across the weekend. 

Meanwhile, 13% anticipate the weekend will be the "busiest in a decade," as Brits book outdoor space and make dining reservations to socialise with friends and family.

Consumer demand is set to return to shops, pubs and restaurants as 60% of retail, hospitality and leisure businesses reported equal or higher customer numbers than before the onset of the pandemic.

Confidence is improving among SMEs across all sectors, with 90% feeling optimistic or neutral about the prospects for their business.

Small and medium sized businesses hold a significant economic position in the UK, accounting for around three fifths of the nation’s employment and half of the turnover in the UK private sector.

"The success and optimism we are seeing from this segment is an excellent gauge of how the wider economy is performing – and from that it’s terrific to predict that a bumper August Bank Holiday looks set to be on the cards,” said Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments.

Concern about the impact of the pandemic has dipped to its lowest point since February 2020, while 44% of SMEs also expect to hire more staff over the next 12 months as the economy picks up.

Read more: UK manufacturing recovery sees 'abnormally large slowdown' as supply chain and staffing issues bite

This renewed positivity is leading SMEs to predict an 8% increase in revenue by the end of Q3 2021, compared to Q2, with transaction data from Barclaycard Payments also supporting this return to growth.

Data taken from the 350,000 small and medium businesses that Barclaycard processes payments for shows that, on average, SMEs have already seen a 6% increase in revenue in recent weeks, when comparing the week commencing 12 July (before all restrictions were relaxed in England) to the week commencing 2 August (when many further restrictions were lifted across the rest of the UK).

The figures are particularly positive for small and medium sized restaurants, pubs and bars, who experienced a 25% increase in year-on-year revenue during the first week of August 2021, Barclaycard said. 

Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?

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