One in five (20 per cent) of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are anticipating a challenging Christmas trading period, research from Nucleus Commercial Finance has found.
Out of this, 18 per cent believe their businesses will suffer over the period, and two per cent think they will have to close.
Some 69 per cent of SMEs surveyed predicted a drop in consumer spending due to the economic impact of Covid-19. This contrasts to the Christmas season traditionally being one of the busiest times of the year.
However, some SMEs believe consumers will shop online or local instead.
80 per cent forecast a rise in shoppers going online and 41 per cent predict an increase in customers shopping with them via online channels in the run up to Christmas.
Almost a third (30 per cent) of SMEs also expect a boost in business as a result of shoppers staying local. 11 per cent anticipate they will be able to flourish over the next few months and start the new year in a good position.
“2020 has been a year of disruption for people and businesses globally,” said Chirag Shah, chief executive of Nucleus Commercial Finance.
“Here in the UK, we’ve seen remarkable resilience as a result of both government support and the mettle of our SME landscape.
“The Christmas season ahead will undoubtedly reflect the economic challenges we’ve collectively faced this year, but I am pleased to see some optimism about people choosing to shop locally and support their communities.
“SMEs are vital to the UK economy, so it is crucial we keep supporting them. Adaptability has been key this year – and we are likely to see those businesses who have been able to flex their models to accommodate lockdown restrictions and a need for online channels really reap the rewards this Christmas.
“And while the road ahead may be rocky, this gives the alternative lending space a chance to step up and demonstrate both commitment and support to our SMEs.”
Read more: Half of SMEs have adapted to survive Covid