In 2023 we should savour bank holidays even more for giving a much-needed boost to our small businesses, especially in sectors like hospitality and retail, which are still feeling the effects from the pandemic.
Last year the nation celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee with an additional bank holiday in June. Less than a year later, we have seen a new Monarch crowned, again with a bank holiday declared as part of the celebrations. This created a unique opportunity for many UK businesses, especially smaller consumer-facing ones.
To the majority, bank holidays and royal events are a time to celebrate with friends, family and the local community. This was easier than ever over the weekend of the 6th of May, due to the extension of opening hours for pubs, clubs and bars from 11pm to 1am, alongside swathes of street parties and other events taking place around the UK. Many businesses will have welcomed the opportunity to service the corresponding extra demand for their services over the Coronation weekend.
While the current economic climate continues to present challenges to a great many businesses, the British Chambers of Commerce quarterly economic survey for Q1 2023 noted that retail and hospitality remain particularly squeezed. It found that in the first three months of this year, almost two in five (38%) retail firms experienced a decrease in sales, with one in three (32%) hospitality businesses also reporting a fall.
These same businesses will have been particularly eager to take advantage of the Coronation weekend by involving themselves in community plans or creating and marketing themed products to customers. Hardly surprising, when The Centre for Retail Research estimated that the Coronation would provide a boost of £1.4 billion to the UK economy. Whether trying to get a portion of the £245 million spent on souvenirs and memorabilia, £846 million on hospitality or £322 million expected from foreign tourists visiting the event, it presented an irresistible opportunity to generate additional revenue.
The ability to choose when they work and when they don’t is one of the most cited benefits of being self-employed among Start Up Loans recipients and other business owners. This is despite the fact most are incredibly busy and working long hours as they build their enterprises.
These same businesses may well be taking on employees as they grow and dealing, for the first time, with staff seeking time off over public holidays when the business requires them to work, including the option of giving their employees time off in lieu of working those days. It’s a challenge that all employers must navigate and one of the reasons that Start Up Loans offers a host of free resources and mentoring as part of its post-loan support. Whether the development of HR policies, supply chain management, marketing or another aspect of business management, our loan recipients get access to the tools they need to become the employer they want to be.
With the late May bank holiday still to come, it will have been a bumper year for those of us lucky enough to get the time off to enjoy them. Let’s all hope that it proves to have also been a brilliant month for the revenue of small businesses in retail and hospitality and take time to appreciate the workers who worked behind the scenes to make it all happen.