Small businesses hit by revenue worries as lockdown trading restrictions are lifted

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Small businesses eligible to reopen are concerned about revenue returning to pre-pandemic levels according to a survey by Tide, the UK-based business financial platform.

Despite the government roll-out of the vaccine programme and a lifting of trading restrictions,  some small businesses are clearly worried about bouncing back. 37% of small businesses are unsure about when revenue will return to pre-pandemic levels with over 20%  stating it could take over six months and one in ten (14%) believing it’ll take over a year to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Tide conducted a study amongst its 325,000 members in the hospitality, retail and beauty and wellness industries to understand how they were feeling about reopening their businesses.

The key concern for small businesses is the time it will take to rebuild customer bases. Of those who stated it’ll take more than three months to bounce back, nearly three quarters (72%) cite this as the main reason. The second most common concern is the need to adapt businesses to meet COVID safety regulations.

Despite concerns, the clear roadmap for reopening has clearly had some positive effects, with 90% of small businesses eligible for reopening being ready to do so as soon as they are able, on Monday 12 April.

Oliver Prill, Tide CEO said: “It’s natural for businesses to be apprehensive about reopening after such a turbulent year. I really hope, and am confident we will, see a return of the outpouring of support for small, independent, businesses that was so prevalent this time last year. I would love to see a resurgence of the #ShopLocal campaign and I urge people to shop on their local highstreets as much as they possibly can and demonstrate their support for small businesses as they begin to reopen this week.

“What we have learned over the course of this crisis is that small businesses are resilient and innovative, while it will take a lot of hard work, I am confident we will see our members come back stronger.”

Happily, the long-term outlook of small business owners in these sectors is bright. 70% of businesses in the hospitality, retail and beauty and wellness sectors are confident their businesses will see some growth, compared to their pre-COVID position, by the end of 2021.

When asked what kind of support would help them to make reopening successful, a third (32%) said that free or subsidised digital marketing would be the most needed. Rent relief  and business rate relief were also popular options, with 25% and 20% citing this as the most helpful support respectively.

Tide is not a bank, but a business financial platform and the leading digital challenger in business banking services. We believe that a platform approach is the future of business banking, allowing us to offer both financial and admin services to SMEs saving them time (and money) to allow them to focus on what they love: running their businesses.

88% uplift in outdoor hospitality bookings but no-shows will hinder post-Covid hospitality recovery

Patrick Hooykaas, UK Managing Director at TheFork, formally known as Bookatable, comments on the risk of no-shows when outdoor hospitality opens today: “We’ve seen a phenomenal increase in bookings since the government confirmed restaurants can open on Monday. This week alone we’ve seen an 88% uplift in bookings. However, a risk for restaurants right now is people simply not turning up. ‘No-shows’ will hinder post-Covid hospitality recovery. On average 98% of people who book through TheFork don’t miss bookings, and its vital people turn up, or cancel if they’re no longer able to attend. Anonymous bookings aren’t always the kindest way to book a table, and people booking multiple venues and hoarding those tables regardless of whether they use them will have a huge impact on the industry. The most expensive thing to a restaurant manager is an empty table, because it costs the same amount empty as it does full. Empty tables are also unlikely to be filled at such short notice, as the industry places greater emphasis on bookings over walk ins in its post-Covid recovery.

“We’ve been working hard to develop tools for restaurateurs to reduce the number of no-shows. The best tactic we have is to make the diner feel responsible for their booking, while reintroducing the human dimension in this online interaction. Implementing these tools helped us take 90% of the small proportion of our customers who have been no-shows in the past to the point where they didn’t miss a booking in six months.

“We help to combat the risk of no-shows by only displaying live restaurant availability, sending booking reminders, and by only allowing people to make one booking for a time slot in our system. If we could make one appeal in the lead up to the reopening it would be to book carefully, and cancel any bookings they can’t make with as much notice as possible. These are common courtesies but we also need to support the hospitality industry more now than ever before.”