A recent study conducted on the nation’s high-street businesses reveals how they are responding to and overcoming the impact of record energy prices, staff shortages, and reduced customer spending. Researchers discovered that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are implementing innovative strategies to address rising costs while prioritizing customer satisfaction.
Jon Shephard, owner of Matches Sports Bar in Ashford, faced a significant 167 percent increase in utility bills, as well as higher supplier costs for beer and menu ingredients (20 percent and 15 percent respectively). In response, the bar collaborated with a local brewery to create its own house beer, offering it at a lower cost to customers. Despite additional challenges, such as staff shortages during the busy World Cup period, Jon adopted a hands-on approach by working extra shifts and organizing a staff party to boost morale.
Similarly, hairdresser Jacqui Doherty, owner of The Village Salon in Middlesex, has chosen not to increase prices despite struggling with rising expenses. With a loyal customer base, including retirees, Jacqui introduced a “pay what you can afford” policy to support those facing financial difficulties. However, the ongoing risk of COVID-19 has led to decreased footfall, putting additional pressure on her business.
John Baldwin, Head of Commercial Banking at Santander UK, commended SMEs for their resilience and adaptability in challenging times. Santander UK has launched an SME Support Toolkit, providing non-financial resources to help SMEs navigate and thrive amidst economic challenges.
The study, conducted among 750 retailers with a high-street presence, highlights the determination of SMEs to overcome adversity and support their customers and local communities. By implementing smart changes and receiving the right support, SMEs have demonstrated their ability to thrive even in difficult economic conditions.