Hitachi business research reveals worst growth outlook for retail sector since 2016

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The retail sector has posted the weakest small business outlook for 2020, according to Hitachi Capital Business Finance.

Less than a third of small businesses in the retail sector are predicting growth for the early months of 2020 (31%). This is the worst growth outlook for the retail sector since the start of 2016 (31%). 

The figures for the retail sector contrast sharply with the national picture, where two in five small business leaders (39%) predict growth by 31 March – the highest level for 18 months.

Top 10 issues keeping retail business leaders up at night

Issue keeping retail owners up at night %
Possible impact of Brexit31%
Economic volatility31%
Managing cash flow27%
Retaining business21%
Red tape21%
Tax and interest rates19%
Compliance and regulations17%
Weather16%
Business rates13%
Borrowing and lending7%

Gavin Wraith-Carter, managing director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, said: “Last year small businesses had to adapt to a period of protracted Brexit uncertainty and the economic ripple it delivered to sectors across the UK. We start 2020 with far greater certainty and our research suggests small businesses have switched from staying afloat through cost-cutting to a new era of planning for sales growth, investing in people and product diversification to boost bottom-line growth. While 10% of business leaders are investing in training, the remaining 90% should be giving this serious thought, and what options that are available to businesses. 

“Our research also suggests that more small business owners recognise the need to adopt flexibility in their budgeting, whilst safeguarding their financial strength by building up their financial reserves. These factors point towards 2020 being a year when more small businesses will be looking for finance to help to realise their growth ambitions. We would encourage business owners to shop around, to look beyond the high street lenders and talk to specialists that can offer flexible solutions that are tailored to the needs of their business.”