Coastal towns thriving as microbusiness hubs, new data reveals

Coastal towns including Felixstowe, Bournemouth, Sidmouth, and Bexhill-on-Sea are at the heart of a UK microbusiness boom, new data from GoDaddy has revealed

Coastal towns thriving as microbusiness hubs, new data reveals

The findings come from Venture Forward, an international research initiative that analyses data from more than half a million online microbusinesses in the United Kingdom, typically defined as having 10 employees or fewer, with a unique domain and an active website. 

Suffolk Coastal, within which Felixstowe is the largest town, is the sixth fastest-growing area of the country overall, and saw 54% growth in its microbusiness density score. This is more than ten times the average UK growth rate of 5%. Bournemouth West (+29%), East Devon which contains Sidmouth (+23%), and Bexhill and Battle (+23%) also far outstripped the national average and feature in the top 20 highest climbers. Meanwhile, the Isle of Wight, Totnes, and Portishead in North Somerset all saw substantial growth of +13%, as did St Austell and Newquay (+11%).

Contrastingly, entrepreneur communities in coastal towns in the north of England and Wales grew at a far slower rate, bringing into focus the continued north-south divide. Blackpool South (+2.7%), the Vale of Clwyd which contains Rhyl (+2.7%), Scarborough and Whitby (+2.1%), and Morecambe and Lunesdale (+2.1%) all saw modest growth, while Greater Grimsby had a -1% contraction. 

Despite the northern areas not showing significant uplift at this time, the UK’s small business community overall is in good health, with growth in microbusiness density in most parts of the country. Many iconic coastal towns have been at the heart of this boom, particularly in the south of England, which could be attributed to people moving out of London post-Covid and pursuing other ventures. 

Catherine Hickman from Felixstowe is one of these coastal entrepreneurs and founded her organic skincare business, Fanatical Botanical, last year: “I developed an interest in clean skincare when medical treatment meant that my skin became too sensitive for regular products. I’ve been making my own for the past decade and, following a redundancy last year, decided to take the leap and develop it into a business. I’ve kept a part-time job as a gardener to raise capital for scaling its operations. 

Felixstowe has a strong community spirit; people believe in shopping local and supporting small businesses. The craft fairs and markets in Felixstowe helped get my business off the ground and in December I launched my website to support the next phase. My business is continuing to grow and I’ve just secured three local stockists to distribute my range of natural skincare products.”

The resilience and innovation of coastal entrepreneurs is driving this surge, turning seaside towns into thriving hubs of microbusiness activity. With the rapid advancements in technology and tools to help entrepreneurs set up websites quickly and efficiently, the outlook is hopeful that the north-south seaside divide will close and microbusinesses will continue to grow in the years to come.

Andrew Gradon
Andrew Gradon

Share via
Copy link