29% of small businesses in the retail sector fear contraction or collapse in the next three months as the coronavirus continues to disrupt business, a study by Hitachi Capital Business Finance reveals.
The company which has been tracking small business outlooks across the UK for 26 consecutive quarters found only 19% of retailers are predicting growth this quarter down from 34% the last time they were questioned.
The data also revealed that 32% of manufacturing small businesses predicted growth for the three months to 31 March, whilst 29% predicted contraction or collapse.
According to Hitachi, growing calls in Scotland for a second independence referendum has led to Scottish small businesses to be the least likely in the UK to be predicting any form of growth in the next three months (17% – half that of their counterparts in London, 34%).
Joanna Morris, head of insight at Hitachi Capital Business Finance said: “If we dig deeper into the detail, there are areas of concern. When it comes to growth plans, Scottish and Welsh small businesses are lagging behind their English counterparts. Whilst home-working has helped businesses to plan and grow, attempts to reinvent businesses has seemingly been more problematic.
“And there is no question that Brexit is impacting the many small businesses that rely on exports – and at the very time when the UK market is in lockdown. These are challenges that need to be tackled to ensure the UK small business sector does not become polarised between those who do very well and those facing closure.”
She added: “At Hitachi Capital Business Finance we are working hard to help small businesses to adapt and invest in growth and we hope the forthcoming Budget will help give a level playing field to help all small businesses to reforecast and rebuild. After all, the nation’s economic recovery from Covid will depend on the small business sector.”