Small business concerns over economic uncertainty have sky-rocketed over the last 12 months by almost 50%, according to new research from Novuna Business Finance.
The latest tracking data from its Business Barometer study revealed the percentage of small business owners worried about market volatility has risen from 27% in Q1 2022 to 40% this quarter – becoming the number one concern in small businesses, replacing the long-term economic impact of Covid as their top worry.
With the headline inflation figure falling to 10.1% last month – Novuna’s quarterly poll of 1,106 small business owners suggested that 79% of small business owners were kept awake by issues that were a major source of worry.
Along with the legacy of Covid, the long-term impact of Brexit had fallen as a worry since this time last year (18%). Instead, concern has risen on the financial aspects of running a business – such as; managing cash flow (19%), retaining business (21%) and the prospect of rising tax and interest rates (22%).
Pressure points: Manufacturing and retail By sector, the story was more varied. Nine in ten small business owners in the manufacturing and retail sector were tossing and turning at night over pressing business concerns (91%), compared to three quarters nationally (79%). This was a drastic increase on this time last year, catapulting from 78% to 91% in manufacturing and 76% to 91% in retail.
When it came to the specific concerns that were keeping these business leaders awake at night, the continuing impact of Brexit remained a significant worry for those in the manufacturing sector, with almost two fifths of businesses citing it as a key business concern (34%). This was almost three times the number of construction businesses with the same concern (12%).
In retail, the uncertainty of economic volatility was a much bigger issue than it was nationally, with 57% of small businesses in this sector expressing significant concerns, (compared to 40% nationally). With news of store closures for big retail brands such as Wetherspoons, TKMaxx and more, the Novuna research further illustrates the impact on the retail sector of the cost of living crisis and reduced consumer spending.
There was a slightly more positive story when it came to business owners in Media and Marketing and Agriculture, who were significantly less worried this quarter compared to last year (88% to 79% and 85% to 79% respectively). However, this still represented three quarters of small businesses in these sectors with considerable concerns surrounding their business.
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