SMEs losing out over Christmas period

Three-quarters of Britain’s SMEs could miss out on Christmas cash to high street chains and online stores, according to research from Lloyds Bank.


The bank discovered that only a quarter of SMEs have a special selling strategy in place to attract shoppers throughout December.


Furthermore, half of the independently-owned businesses questioned said they plan to shut over the holiday season, ignoring the millions of last-minute shoppers looking to panic buy.


The bank actually found that many in the SME community felt their businesses were unaffected by the Christmas rush despite rising consumer confidence and better economic conditions.


However, any additional finance during the Christmas period could significantly reduce the risk of turning to radical corporate restructuring methods.


“It is surprising that so few SMEs invest or plan ahead for the busy Christmas period despite the clear business benefits,” said Stephen Pegge, external relations director, Lloyds Banking Group.


“As the economy shows signs of improvement and consumers feel more confident, now is the time for businesses to engage with their customers to understand their business needs and how best to prepare for 2014.”


Is Christmas really all that important?


Of the businesses that do not have a specific plan in place, such as longer opening hours or an additional delivery service, 84% said it was because Christmas did not impact their tills.


Just one in ten businesses targeted their spend on other periods of the year, such as the summer or Valentine’s Day, with 5% saying such activities are limited by budgets and time-frames.


For example, many small retailers, restaurants and pubs plan to capitalise on festive spending whereas finance and property companies do not.


This is done with extended shopping hours, new product launches and by creating greater contact with customers, all of which help company’s maintain a strong position going into 2014.


Despite only a minority of SMEs having made Christmas plans, the average investment sales strategies for the holiday season are rising, with the average amount being spent now topping £15,000 per company.


By Phil Smith


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