Revealed: the UK areas most worried about the cost of living crisis

Today we’re discussing the top ten areas of the UK feeling the financial strain – and how you can accommodate customers while sustaining your bottom line.

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In the midst of the cost of living crisis, money worries are adding pressure to households across the nation. Now, research has identified the UK areas where financial concerns may be mounting fastest – giving small businesses in these regions extra incentive to be aware of their customers’ concerns.

Recent data from CMC Markets has shed light on the regions where these concerns are most pronounced, exposing the challenges faced not only by residents but also by small business owners in these locations. 

Amid these trying circumstances, the paramount concern for business owners has become how to sustain their livelihoods, retain an appeal to customers, and to keep trading through these tough times.

Ranking the regions with greatest financial worries

To calculate the UK regions indicating the greatest financial concerns, CMC Markets analysed Google Search trends at a local level. Topping the list is Wrexham, where there is an average of 7,767 monthly Google searches per 100K residents regarding financial help and advice. The residents of Wrexham display a particular interest in student finance help, surpassing other types of support.

Coming in second is Walsall, with 7,127 monthly searches per 100K residents for financial help. Among the sought-after terms in this area is “tax help near me,” indicating the pressing need for tax-related assistance.

Cardiff secures the third position on the list, as its residents conduct an average of 4,959 monthly searches per 100K population for financial support. The term “debt help” stands out as the most searched term in Cardiff, reflecting the area's concern over managing debt and seeking viable solutions.

Swansea follows in fourth place, with 4,345 monthly searches per 100K residents. Similarly to Wrexham, Swansea residents prioritise financial assistance related to student finance, underlining the significance of this issue within the area.

In fifth place, Norwich residents demonstrate their financial worries by conducting 4,257 monthly searches per 100K population, with a particular focus on “how to get financial help”. 

Ranking sixth, Wigan residents exhibit an active search rate of 4,049 monthly searches per 100K individuals, with a strong emphasis on finding help to cover their bills. With energy bills still currently higher than ever, this highlights the pressing need for financial aid to maintain stability in the area.

Lincoln follows in seventh place, with residents conducting 3,792 monthly searches per 100K population for financial support. Their top searched term, “how to get financial aid,” indicates a desire for accessible resources to navigate financial challenges.

Liverpool secures the eighth spot, with residents conducting 3,690 monthly searches per 100K individuals for financial help

Mansfield and Bath complete the top ten, with 3,496 and 3,420 monthly searches per 100K residents, respectively. Mansfield residents exhibit a particular interest in “fixing credit scores,” while Bath residents seek guidance from financial advisors, demonstrating the demand for expert advice in these areas.

Things for UK small business owners to consider right now

The CMC Markets data gives a good indication of the financial strain households are under. For businesses, these are desperately hard times too. A huge number of businesses have gone into administration since COVID and the cost of living crisis.

Despite the economic challenges, there’s room for proactive and practical approaches for small business owners. Here are a few ways to navigate these customer concerns compassionately, while still finding a way forward for your business:

  • Customer budgets are shrinking: as the cost of living rises, consumers may face constraints on their budgets, impacting their spending habits. This will be particularly hard if your business sells something considered a non-essential service. Business owners should remain sensitive to this reality and tailor their offerings to accommodate customers' financial limitations.
  • It’s time to tempt custom in innovative ways: to attract and retain customers despite the crisis, businesses must think outside the box. Offering limited-time promotions, loyalty programs, a freemium model or special bundles can be enticing strategies to entice potential buyers.
  • Manage your overheads and cash flow: during this crisis, it's essential to be mindful of potential reductions in revenue and the financial hurdles your business may face. Stay on top of your cash flow forecasts, as this will help you understand and plan for any potential financial shortfalls. Take a proactive approach by avoiding unnecessary expenses and exploring other possible cost-cutting measures. By doing so, you can better navigate the challenges and secure the financial stability of your business during these uncertain times.
  • Don’t lose sight of staff wellbeing amid the cost of living crisis: try to remain mindful that your employees, too, are currently experiencing the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis. This can lead to heightened stress and mental health concerns. Business owners should proactively support their staff during these difficult times. If pay rises are not feasible, they can consider alternative benefits, such as flexible working arrangements or remote work options, to help employees cut commute costs and reduce financial strain.
  • All in all, entrepreneurship will continue to thrive: In the face of adversity, the entrepreneurial spirit in the UK remains resilient and it’s widespread across the nation. In fact, the most entrepreneurial location in the UK was just recently revealed (and it’s not London!). Business owners should foster this spirit and look for opportunities within the crisis. Identifying market gaps, exploring new business models, and staying informed about government support schemes can help sustain and drive business growth.

Worried about starting a business in the current economy? We’ve articles on recession proof business ideas, plus 101+ small business ideas to start now.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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