Coronavirus

31% of SME leaders optimistic of June reopening but fear future lockdowns

The research found that smaller businesses are the least optimistic about restrictions lifting. Micro businesses, those with 1-9 employees, are three times more likely to think the removal of restrictions will be delayed

Nearly a third (31%) of SME leaders are “optimistic” about all restrictions lifting on 21 June but also fear future lockdowns and the impact this will have on their business, according to research from Nucleus Commercial Finance.

It found that despite the UK being on track to lift all social distancing restrictions next month, three in 10 (30%) SME leaders are unsure as to whether all measures will be removed by 21 June, while 26% believe that the removal of all restrictions by this date will be delayed.

On the other hand, just one in 10 (12%) SME leaders believe all restrictions will be removed by June and there will be no future lockdowns.

The research found that smaller businesses are the least optimistic about restrictions lifting. Micro businesses, those with 1-9 employees, are three times more likely to think the removal of restrictions will be delayed compared to medium businesses (50-249 employees), with these figures standing at 21% and 7% respectively.

When looking at the lockdown sentiment regionally, Nucleus found those in the South West and London are most fearful of future lockdowns, standing at 44% and 38% respectively, compared to just 23% in the North West.

Chirag Shah, CEO, Nucleus Commercial Finance, said: “After more than a year of lockdowns impacting their ability to open their doors, or in some cases even survive, it’s hardly surprising that SME owners are still worried about what the future holds. Despite level two restrictions being lifted this week, there is still a sense of uncertainty about whether life will return to ‘normal’ next month.

“However, it is important for business owners to remember that they have shown extraordinary levels of resilience over the past 12 months and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

He added: “Moving forward, government and industry must work together to raise awareness of the various support measures available, and reassure business owners of the help at hand. These solutions can be tailored to business’ specific needs and delivered at speed to help them not only survive, but thrive in the pandemic and beyond.”

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