Nine in 10 (88%) micro businesses say they are finding it harder to make ends meet than this time last year, according to a poll by Facebook group, Not On Amazon, which has nearly 190,000 independent makers as members.
Just 1% of the 2000 member respondents to the poll said they are finding it easier to make ends meet compared to a year ago, while 11% said they are in the same financial position relative to February last year.
The poll results also delivered a damning indictment of the Government amid the cost of living and energy crisis, with 93% of respondents saying the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is not doing enough to support micro businesses.
Not On Amazon’s community of makers were also asked what represents the biggest challenge for their businesses at present.
34% of survey respondents said “slow sales”, 28% “rising energy prices”, 20% “rising raw material costs”, 4% the “availability of raw materials” and 3% “rising interest rates”. 11% were unsure.
Jamie Rackham, Founder of Not On Amazon, commented:
“Sadly, this survey shows the grim reality independent businesses are facing today. The fact that nine in 10 makers and micro businesses are finding it harder to get by than this time last year shows that the post-pandemic financial crisis is really starting to take hold. What’s also crystal clear is that the vast majority of small indies do not feel the Government is doing enough to support them, while at the same time letting giant corporations avoid paying the taxes they should. Many of our members basically feel abandoned. Slow sales are bad enough in themselves, but once you factor in rising energy prices and raw material costs, the financial pain is amplified. In the meantime, big businesses, which can afford to slash their prices, get bigger. As ever, the rich get richer, and the poor poorer, and that’s simply not right.”
Below are a selection of quotes from Not On Amazon members:
Jenny Blyth, owner of Storm In A Teacup Gifts: “For the first time in many years I’m scared. The rising cost of living, and rocketing food and gas prices, mean my usual sales just aren’t enough. I don’t have enough money to heat my home and run my business simultaneously. So what choice do I make? How do I invest in my future if I can barely fund my present?”
Danielle McKenny, owner of organic skincare company, Gaea’s Garden: “I have watched the price of food in the grocery shops increase by 15-20% in the past two years and it’s only set to get worse. I don’t see any politicians losing sleep over any of this insanity. The past two years have been absolutely devastating for small businesses. While our sales have plummeted, the cost of living and eating has skyrocketed.”
Natalie Fletcher, owner of Manchester-based micro manufacturer, Mancmade: “Like many others who work from home, I am struggling to keep up with the astronomical hikes in energy prices. I’m regularly having to ignore the dial on the thermostat and instead pull up my hood simply to keep warm.”
Amin Khan, owner of sustainable clothing retailer, PrimaBerry: “As a small business owner who works from home, rising energy prices and the cost of living are a huge concern for us. We try to make our items as affordable as we can but we are afraid that, soon, we will have to raise our prices and our customers will stop purchasing.”
Sarah Seymour, owner of London-based Love Absolute Skincare: “As the owner of a micro skincare brand, I’m feeling absolutely exhausted. The two-year battle since Covid began has been long and brutal and our sales have been affected throughout. Sometimes no money at all has come in. Just when I thought we were out of the woods, I’ve literally been blindsided by a £1,700 pound energy bill. The battle to survive for micro businesses like mine is real and soaring energy prices are crippling us just as we thought things might improve.”
Marianne Clarke, owner of pet portrait and grooming company, Selston Groom and Train: “We have stopped putting our heating on when we are cold. I now only use the heating to dry clothes. I wear my dressing gown all the time unless I am working. As a dog groomer working from home, I use a lot of hot water and a lot of electricity for blowdrying. I am extremely worried about the cost of energy prices rising. My electricity bill has already risen by £50 a month, but I fear that more rises will come.”
Kevin Pearson, a coin carver and jeweller at Vagrant Art: “The bill for the current energy price omnishambles has landed squarely at the doors of those least able to pay. It’s time for a new Government as the current one is rotten right through.”
Jem Young, founder of No Forks Given Fabrications: “We are currently doing well. Lockdown brought a whole host of new customers to us and we are eternally grateful for this but I think that is because we have quite a niche market. However, we have family members and friends who are already choosing between eating and heating, and many are going with hardly any food at all so that their children can eat. It is a truly scary time and it is really difficult to stay positive and upbeat. There’s this real guilt hanging over us that our business is doing really well but not well enough that we can help our family and friends out of the dire position many find themselves in.”