Optimism reigns among UK SMEs following the lifting of lockdown restrictions earlier this month, with seven in ten (70%) feeling confident about the survival of their business over the next year. Of those SMEs that have re-opened in the last month, almost three quarters (73%) have seen an increase in customer demand from the last time they were open. Two in three (67%) of these recently re-opened SME businesses also reported they found the process of re-opening easy.
When thinking about the UK economy over the next 12 months, a slightly smaller proportion (54%) of SMEs are feeling confident. Sole traders are the least confident in the economy over the next year (32%), compared with small businesses* (65%) and medium sized businesses** (66%).
SMEs are more confident a Conservative government led by Boris Johnson would best handle the economy right now, over a Labour government led by Kier Starmer (42% vs 32%). However, when looking at how they would handle healthcare and the NHS, SMEs would have slightly more confidence in Starmer over Johnson (39% to 37%).
Looking at policy areas more widely, small-medium sized businesses are most likely to think healthcare/the NHS is the most important area for the country right now (49%), followed by the economy (40%), and more distantly by the environment (22%), crime (21%) and education (21%). Concerns about the EU and Brexit appear to be slipping from the forefront of SME minds, placing sixth on the list, at 19%.
James Endersby, CEO at Opinium said: “The green shoots of recovery as we make our way through the government’s roadmap of restrictions lifting are clear to see here. The majority of SMEs feeling confident and optimistic about the future of their business, as well as the uptick in demand since opening is fantastic to see, especially after such tumultuous times for so many. SMEs are a crucial part of our economy and many people’s livelihoods, so it’s really important we see this recovery continue.”