May bank holiday weekends boost UK SMEs

22 May 2019

It’s good news for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) as both May bank holidays combined are set to boost revenues. 

Data gathered from Paymentsense's 70,000 UK SME customers, shows that sales volumes in 2018 were up 6 per cent over the first May bank holiday weekend, and then a further 5 per cent over the second, providing UK SMEs with a total estimated boost of £118 million.

Garden related spending enjoyed the biggest lift, with a 248 per cent increase in transactions. Leisure spending, including pubs, bars and nightclubs, also saw sales increase by 60 per cent, as did hotels, where spending increased 28 per cent.  Take away food and fast foods were also popular over the 2018 May bank holiday period, seeing an increase of 24 per cent over the norm, as did motorcycle dealers and photography/camera retailers (both up 32 per cent), service stations (up 26 per cent) and golf courses (up 20 per cent).

This is welcome news for the UK retail sector, which has been hard hit by competitive price pressures, a shift towards online shopping, increased business rates costs, higher minimum wage, and consumer caution.

According to Guy Moreve, CMO of Paymentsense, early analysis suggests that the trend of extra consumer spending across both bank holiday weekends is set to continue this year.

“As spring turns to summer purchasing trends shift with the seasons," Mr Moreve says. "Our figures suggest May, with its two bank holidays, is the real start of summer for many people - their attention turns away from practical purchasing towards outdoor activities and entertainment."

He adds that SMEs should make sure they are prepared to accept all forms of payments ahead of the upcoming May bank holiday, to really make the most of the expected increase in consumer spending.

"Given that consumers will only wait a few months for SMEs to start taking cards before they lose patience, it’s also an investment in the long-term success of a new or small business.”

Here are a few more tips from our Beavis Morgan SME business experts:

  • Plan, plan, plan! Think about what you need ahead of the weekend. Do you need to pre-order extra stock, how will you pay for it, what about cashflow? Make sure you keep on top of paperwork and ensure customers pay you promptly in order to maintain a strong cash position.
  • Use the power of social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about offers and facilitate two-way conversation between your business and your customers.
  • It is vital for SMEs to work closely with a specialist business adviser to determine the best way to maintain your cash reserves. They will work closely with you during this critical time, helping you determine the best payment terms for businesses and suppliers, as well as the best timing of invoice payments, all the while ensuring you're not compromising your working relationships.
  • Cashflow forecasting and budgeting models are increasingly important, not only to help you plan your finances, but they are commonly requested by banks and other providers of finance – essential if you require working capital to fill any gaps in cashflow ahead of the season. Choose an adviser who can work with you to ensure your cashflow forecasting, budgeting and business plans (the vision of where you want your business to go) is communicated in a professional format and gives you real time information to keep on top of business progress.
  • In this fast-paced environment, which demands cutting edge digital transformation, it is essential that SMEs embrace change by modernising and future proofing their operations. Take a ‘SWAT team approach’ to transformation by bringing in a smaller, external team who will work alongside management to help them make bold, brave decisions which may well go against the grain of how things have always been done in the past. One that will challenge existing ideas and capitalise on the raft of new opportunities presented by changing consumer patterns.

In order to survive and thrive, SMEs need to carefully separate out which factors have affected them and adopt strategies for weathering the storm, such as undertaking proactive store closures or responding quickly to changing consumer preferences. Business owners also need accurate, reliable and timely financial information, whether that be profit or cash focused, or both, to accurately and effectively manage the company's finances and drive growth. 

At Beavis Morgan, our SME business experts can help you identify your requirements and then design and implement a system that will provide all the information you need, within a cost effective and efficient framework. 

Being able to understand and evaluate your business through real-time information on actual performance is critical and could mean the difference between survival and business failure.  

Through our partner businesses, BM Structured Finance and BM Advisory, we are able to help with sourcing and restructuring debt finance for businesses, as well as assisting with resolving issues which can impact on business performance and success, and finding innovative solutions for businesses and individuals in distress. 

Our property sector specialists are also available to advise on all aspects of the property market. We act for a broad range of property investors and developers who actively need advice on how to best structure their property deals, both to ring-fence and protect their property assets, as well as to minimise the tax arising from their business operations. 

To find out more about how we can assist you and your SME business, contact Steve Govey or your usual Beavis Morgan Partner.