Our Christmas small business survey results

We surveyed over 600 small business owners in December to understand how the impact of the pandemic would affect their Christmas plans, and their thoughts on the year ahead.

29 December 2020

Christmas and working hours

Nearly a quarter of business owners (23%) said they would not buy any Christmas gifts for their family and friends this year. Of the business owners who are parents, over a third (35%) said they'd not buy presents “at the same level as pre-pandemic” for their children this Christmas.

As for working hours, whilst many across the UK enjoy time off over Christmas, small business owners are having to work overtime, with our research revealing that 1 in 6 were set to work on Christmas Day this year (16%), and 1 in 3 on Boxing Day (31%). Even for business owners who are parents, 1 in 10 planned to work all five days over the holiday period – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Nearly half of female business owners concerned they will close business in 2021

Our research suggests that female business owners may be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, as nearly half (47%) worry they’ll have to close their businesses in 2021, compared to just over a third (35%) of men.

The holiday period could also be tougher for female-led businesses. Our survey results show that they planned on working more hours and spending less time with their families this year to compensate for the adverse effects of Covid-19 on their businesses. Just under a third (32%) of women planned to work extra hours compared to a quarter of male business owners. Christmas is usually a time when families can come together, however 41% of female business owners reported they’ll spend less time with their families this Christmas to focus on their businesses, with a similar percentage (39%) of male business owners feeling the same.

Daiga Ozolniece, owner of Birmingham based beauty salon – Adelaine Beauty Ltd: “We don't know how we’re going to survive. It’s very possible we’ll have to close down in January. It all depends on the Christmas period. My family will spend this Christmas without me. I’ll be sitting in my salon until the last minute, waiting for clients. I’ll work on Christmas Day, Boxing Day – every day. Every penny counts. There are no presents this year - none at all. We’re barely coping with the bills.

“It's a hard time for everybody now, but it’s especially tough for beauticians. People aren’t going out anymore so they don’t go and get their lashes or nails done. Walk-in clients are not allowed under the government rules, but the beauty industry relies on them. Supermarkets are busy because people can just walk in – my salon is empty because you need to book. The rules are not equal. Beauticians are having to go and work in factories because they can't survive - it’s that bad.”

Seema Desai, Chief Operating Officer of iwoca added: “Christmas itself will of course be different for all of us, but it’s even more concerning that so many business owners are worried that they may not have a business to go back to in 2021. Christmas won't be an easy time for many business owners this year as they juggle to keep their businesses afloat whilst some will try to spend quality time with their families or loved ones.”

iwoca has now distributed over £170 million through the Government's Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and in June launched iwocaPay – an online buy now pay later invoice checkout to help small businesses get paid on time (free until 2021).

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Charlotte is a PR & Communications specialist at iwoca.

Article updated on: 29 December 2020

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