Battling retailers still see some unexpected upsides
An encouraging 64% of retail businesses feel the recession has made their business more efficient, and see other positives including a greater focus on customer service (43%), according to new research conducted as part of the Barclays Take One Small Step Campaign.
The research reveals the unexpectedly mixed impact of the recession. While a perhaps expected 45% of the sector’s businesses have seen their working hours increase, and 13% have seen recession-related redundancies, almost a quarter (22%) of retailers are reporting improvements to their business strategy as a result of the recession.
Steve Cooper, Managing Director for Barclays Local Business said: “This research gives us the clearest understanding yet as to how retailers are coping with the recession and, clearly, small businesses in this sector are finding the upside of adversity wherever they can. Retail firms in particular have taken a pragmatic approach by tackling head-on the big challenges such as improving their business strategy, increasing innovation and focusing on their employees. Lessons have been learnt and I am sure in some cases the hard way.”
Surprisingly, almost one in five retail businesses surveyed in the UK (19 percent) believe they have not been affected by the recession.
When asked to rank the potential impact of a raft of changes on their business rather than consider wage reductions or job losses, there was a clear focus on recovering debts and receiving prompt payment of invoices. A drop in fuel duty was actually seen as the change which would have the single biggest impact on retail businesses.
Cooper said: "23% of retailers claim the recession has made them chase late payments far more vigorously. This chimes with what we know through the popularity of our CreditFocus service. Since we launched our service last year, it’s been used for hundreds of thousands of credit checks, which is one of the key ways that businesses prevent late payments."
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