After a second year of the global pandemic, organisations are continuing to adapt to survive. Many changes made in 2021 will stay in place, helping businesses to keep running safely and profitably.
However, 2022 looks like being the year in which businesses can start to overcome some of these challenges. Almost a third expect to grow. Adaptations have ranged from the comeback of QR codes to the rise in digital sales, and it will be fascinating to see where they take UK small businesses in the next 12 months.
Few, if any, UK businesses have been untouched by the pandemic. As you can see from the graph, 63% of businesses say that their most significant challenge for 2022 is the possibility of future lockdowns, while 27% are concerned about coronavirus regulations. However, both stats are lower than in the previous year, suggesting that hope is rising across the UK.
Just as in 2020, the majority of business owners and leaders have worked longer hours over the past year. Even more of them, in fact, increasing to a massive 87%.
Business plans have had to change for the upcoming year in almost a third of businesses. The biggest impacts have been felt in the healthcare, information technology and leisure, sports and tourism industries.
I’ve had to change my business plan for 2022 because of the pandemic
I worked longer hours in 2021 due to the pandemic
Government support schemes were key to small business survival, so it’s no wonder that owners and leaders are worried about the weeks and months ahead.
In 2021, 19% had to let staff go due to the pandemic, and 39% used furlough schemes. With new restrictions and rules possible in 2022, it’s no wonder that almost a fifth (19%) of businesses are worried about what support will be available if they have to stop trading.
I had to let staff members go due to the pandemic in 2021
I used the furlough scheme during the pandemic in 2021
I am worried about what support is available if my business has to stop trading due to coronavirus restrictions
The pandemic has forced businesses to adapt, implementing new practices including online booking services, QR codes and selling via social media. In fact, over a fifth of businesses brought in QR codes, a 10% increase over 2020. Almost twice as many closed their bricks and mortar businesses, moving entirely online.
Over half of businesses adapted by changing their opening hours, and it is no surprise that the sectors most likely to take this step were hospitality, events (77%) and performing arts (65%). With the current staffing issues facing the UK due to coronavirus, restrictions and the lasting impact of Brexit, this adaptation could be here to stay in 2022.
Hospitality and events management
Charity and voluntary work
81% of all businesses surveyed said they would retain some adaptations beyond the pandemic. 1 in 6 hospitality businesses will keep offering takeaway and delivery services. A massive 89% of the hospitality and events sector will continue to use QR codes in 2022.
Changed opening hours
Introduced online booking services
When asked what the effect of specific restrictions would be on businesses, respondents felt that social distancing, travel bans, and household/bubble rules would have the most negative impact.