Small businesses hail Platinum Jubilee weekend for ‘much-needed positivity’ boost

As firms across the country grapple with the current cost of living crisis, SMEs celebrate a rise in sales figures during the long bank holiday weekend.

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UK small businesses have been thrown a lifeline in the cost of living crisis, with many reporting a boom in sales as a result of the Platinum Jubilee weekend.

The four-day bank holiday weekend came just weeks after UK inflation hit a 40-year high of 9%. A sharp increase in high street footfall saw a steep rise in consumer spending – despite the current squeeze on incomes.

Hospitality and retail businesses were the biggest winners. According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the number of people visiting shops in the Jubilee week was up more than 17% on the average for May.

This is welcome news for hospitality businesses that are already feeling inflationary pressure. Earlier this week, Startups consumer survey revealed that 35% of customers plan to spend less at bars, restaurants, cinemas, and theatres as a result of rising energy bills.

Below, we speak to UK small business owners for their opinions on the long weekend and the opportunities it has brought.

Savvy decision-making brings success

Many of the shrewd firms we spoke to had prepared for the platinum weekend by designing specialist Jubilee-themed product lines designed to more closely target customer wallets.

Decorated with Union Jacks and images of the Queen, they provided excellent marketing and PR opportunities.

Susan Rose is founder of Susan Rose China Ltd, which produces personalised English bone china, made and decorated in Longton, Stoke on Trent. 

“We [designed] a Jubilee range of china mug and tankards which has sold very well. Our sales in the past month leading up to the Jubilee have been 300% greater than normal.”

Some firms also benefited from a surge in media attention.

Helen Rogers, founder of MisHelenEous, makes handmade gifts including ‘Doggy Bow Ties’ from her Manchester home studio. Rogers saw an improvement in sales that was “similar to the December trading period.

“Just as I thought I’d sold all I was going to for the celebrations, a piece in the Daily Express nearly sent my phone into meltdown with orders the weekend before! I was still receiving emails on Monday asking if there were any left.”

“Well-earned rest” for employees

For those businesses that closed during the bank holiday, the long weekend was an opportunity for rest and recuperation following a stressful few months of working.

Data from Lifeworks Mental Health Index highlights the mental health crisis the UK is facing due to the current financial turmoil.

In it, 43% of Britons say they are feeling more sensitive to stress compared to before the pandemic. Similarly, our small business respondents judged the Jubilee weekend as being important for employee wellbeing.

Sanjay Aggarwal is founder of Spice Kitchen, a small family business and online shop specialising in high quality hand-blended and home ground Indian Spices. Aggarwal says the Jubilee has given staff a well-earned rest without them having to take it from annual leave. 

“Everyone’s come back to work this week feeling happy, rested and energised, so for me as a business leader, that can only be a good thing.”

Signs of recovery for UK tourism

One of the hardest-hit industries by the cost of living crisis is domestic tourism.

Households with less money to spend have cut back on weekends away, causing concerns about cash flow for leisure and recreation businesses.

In fact, in our recent survey, 25% of consumers said they were most likely to spend less on holidays as a result of rising inflation and energy costs.

However, Platinum Jubilee festivities held up and down the country helped to show consumers that the UK tourism industry is open for business.

According to a survey by VisitEngland, 5.3 million people in the UK were planning to take an overnight break last weekend.

Michael Buckworth is the managing partner of Buckworths, a law firm that works exclusively with start-ups and high growth businesses. 

“The Jubilee brought some much-needed positivity [and] showed that the UK, and London in particular, remain a destination for tourism.”

Jubilee marketing helps swell customer ranks

The Jubilee celebrations didn’t necessarily boost sales for everyone. Client service companies were less likely to see an uplift in profits.

Still, as consumers had more down-time to scroll through the internet, the majority of SMEs we spoke to noted an increase in customer engagement on their online channels.

All seemed satisfied that the surge in interactions will translate into a larger client base further down the line.

Laura Liles is founder of House of Her, a life-coaching small business. Liles used the bank holiday to nurture and add value to the House of Her audience, rather than selling. 

“We used the Jubilee weekend to put out content on social media, as a lot of people were home, and had time to read and watch videos.

“We expect to see 20% of that content to convert into sales over the next few months and a further 20% within the next twelve months.”

Conclusion

Amongst the ongoing economic turmoil caused by record-high inflation rates, the Platinum Jubilee has brought a glimmer of hope to SMEs.

Consumers turned out in their droves to support their local businesses. This heightened footfall, combined with savvy marketing strategies, has given high street firms a much-needed confidence boost.

Sanjay Aggarwal sums up the optimistic mood and feeling of support that small businesses felt from the long weekend.

“Many of us are all too aware of how previous recessions and cost of living crises affect small businesses and are looking at what we can do to save, build and support one another.

“In challenging times, events like the Jubilee can bring people together, generate a sense of community and actually help to ward off the effects of a recession.”

However, the challenges facing SMEs are far from over. Managers now need to concentrate on maintaining momentum.

If you’re a small business owner, any extra capital you’ve earned from the past weekend should be used to make strategic financial decisions that can help you to budget for increased prices across the supply chain.

Our guide for how to budget in the cost of living crisis has more information on the steps you can take – both big and small – to conserve cash flow.

Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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