Retail woe for SMEs 

SMEs have had a distinctly unmerry Christmas in terms of sales, according to a poll conducted by SmallBusiness.co.uk


SMEs have had a distinctly unmerry Christmas in terms of sales, according to a poll conducted by SmallBusiness.co.uk

SMEs have had a distinctly unmerry Christmas in terms of sales, according to a poll conducted by SmallBusiness.co.uk.

Some 34 per cent said it has been the worst Christmas trading period they’ve known, with a further 28 per cent reporting that it was ‘very slow’.

Andy Clark, co-owner of lingerie and swimwear shop Temptations, saw a significant drop in sales this season. He says: ‘Last December was also disappointing, so this has just been a continuation of the same trend. In a way it’s no surprise as the whole year’s been dire. We’re now having to cut costs and reduce staff hours.’

Not all SMEs are feeling the squeeze. Of the 266 respondents, ten per cent reported they were doing better than last year, with a further 11 per cent saying they were doing well.

James Wright, co-founder of fashion label Jacob Kimmie, has been able to sustain sales at the same level as last year. ‘Being in a position where we are treading water is actually very unusual for a lot of businesses at the moment. We’ve managed to achieve this by online selling via our website, and keeping costs under control.’

Richard Dodd, spokesperson for the British Retail Consortium (BRC), says that tough times lie ahead for many small businesses. ‘Christmas is a very important time for most retailers. Many rely on doing a substantial amount of business in November and December to remain viable.

‘If these sales are undermined, then it can threaten their ability to survive for the whole year.’

Figures released by the BRC revealed that, for the first time since the survey began in 1995, year-on-year sales had fallen for two consecutive months in November and December.

Marc Barber

Raven Connelly

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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