It is coming up on two years now since the full impacts of Covid on the business world started to take effect, and while problems persist, it is becoming clear that U.K. business is bouncing back. The latest trends and expectations for 2022 indicate further business growth as owners and leaders adapt to the ‘new normal’ – here is our analysis of the current state of the market in the United Kingdom.
According to the most recent Deloitte quarterly survey of Chief Financial Officers, there is almost double as much priority being given to capital expenditure for growth as there was this time last year. This translates to a renewed focus on growth and expansion – including developing and implementing new products and services and engaging with new or expanded markets – essentially, capitalizing on classic business growth opportunities. That same survey indicated that consumer demand had returned to pre-Covid levels in the majority of businesses, which is an extremely positive indicator for the market in general.
The much-maligned high street is due to see the benefits of the post-Covid bounce back, with more and more consumers preferring to engage with local businesses or shop on their local high streets rather than visiting city centres. This is due to a combination of factors – the persisting reluctance to travel by train or bus, the desire to avoid crowds and larger groups of people, and the fact that there are now more employees based at home than ever before. Established retail businesses are adapting to these indicators and taking up the vacant spaces that have been the hallmark of smaller high streets for so long – as are new businesses and enterprises.
Pubs and restaurants continue to suffer; in large part due to the uncertainty around rules, further lockdowns, and supply chain and staffing issues. Other hospitality businesses are seeing a return, however – including gyms, spas, salons, and cinemas – as consumers recognise and fulfil a need to get out of the house and spend some time relaxing and looking after themselves in a relatively safe space. Hotels are also seeing a relative boom as doubts remain about international travel and holidaymakers prepare for another year of domestic vacations.
Covid inevitably had an effect on the digital world as well in 2020 and 2021, with online businesses seeing something of a two-way boom over the last year or two – as consumers in lockdown or with fears around public activities turn toward established online marketplaces on the one hand, and as more entrepreneurs launch their own web-based businesses to either replace or bolster their main source of income on the other hand. As we move through 2022, it is expected that these upward trends will continue, with online purchases growing in both quantity and value.
Government support for businesses throughout the pandemic has been characterised by a number of investment and funding schemes – most notably the Bounce Back Loan, the Business Interruption Loan, the Recovery Loan Scheme and various grants and rate reductions. Of these, the most pressing for the coming year is the government Recovery Loan Scheme, which gives small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to take out loans (from British Business Bank approved lenders) that are backed by the government. This means that new and existing businesses can access funding at preferential rates and terms, and the money can be used to grow or expand their operations. This scheme comes to a close in June of this year, so there is a time factor involved in taking advantage if you are yet to do so.
The main takeaway from assessing the current and expected business landscape in the United Kingdom is one of positivity. Whether pandemic-related problems with supply chains, logistics and even lockdowns continue or not, the business world is poised to embrace the new way of doing things, and accept Covid-19 as a part of the way of life moving forward.
At Union Business Finance, we are seeing an increase in companies approaching us for assistance – both in applying for the Recovery Loan Scheme and for help with other financial instruments. There are a range of ways in which we offer support – accessing the benefits of government funding for business growth in the early stages of a business, giving opportunities to expand through finance lease, asset finance, re-finance and more straightforward business loans. We have the expertise and the extensive portfolio of funding sources to help you get the right type of financial support for your business, whatever your goals are.
All of our services are backed up by our devotion to customer satisfaction and open, honest communication. You can get in touch with us by way of telephone and speak with an expert consultant today – there’s no need for an appointment.