Dramatic impact of Covid crisis on smaller firms revealed


Two out of three smaller firms and self-employed workers have had to stop trading at some point in the past six months because of the coronavirus crisis, new research suggests.

Covid-19 could cost small businesses up to £69 billion in total, estimated insurers Simply Business.

In a report to mark Small Business Saturday, the firm said many small business owners live in fear of the consequences another national lockdown would have on their business.

A separate study by American Express suggested that almost half of non-essential independent retailers believe the survival of their business is dependent on the sales they are able to make between reopening on December 2 and Christmas.

A record 17.6 million people supported small independent businesses on last year’s Small Business Saturday, spending an estimated £800 million, said the finance giant.

Stalls at Walthamstow Market in east London (Victoria Jones/PA)
Stalls at Walthamstow Market in east London (Victoria Jones/PA)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Small businesses across the country have made a monumental effort during this crisis.

“They have stepped up when it was most needed, supporting their local communities and making huge sacrifices to help tackle the spread of the virus.

“Now we must repay them.

“This Small Business Saturday and beyond, we can all do our bit to stand by small businesses, by shopping safely where we live, including online, or ordering from local restaurants.”

Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary, added: “Shops, pubs, manufacturers, hotels and hairdressers, beauty salons and suppliers, breweries and bakeries, and small businesses of all kinds have been on the frontline of the economic crisis.

“This is a day to celebrate the millions of these small businesses at the heart of our communities and the workers they employ.

“They represent the best of our country.”

Michelle Ovens, director of Small Business Saturday UK, said: “Lockdown and the closure of non-essential shops has led to a compressed Christmas trading period for small retailers in a vital time for many small shops.

“We are optimistic that with shops now able to reopen and many small firms being really entrepreneurial about the tactics they use to attract shoppers – including making the most of Small Business Saturday UK – that they will be able to make up lost sales.

“Shoppers are also really keen to support small businesses more this year.”