According to The Cashflow Barometer (ABN AMRO Commercial Finance quarterly report), small business turnover decreased by 3% between Q3 and Q4 in 2011. During this period, the average customer numbers for small businesses also fell, in this instance by 7%. And all this, despite overall year-on-year growth of 3% between 2010 and 2011.
According to Managing Director Peter Ewen, “This dip in Q4 mirrors a lot of the economic statistics we are seeing at the moment. It’s important that businesses get the support they need from Government, advisers and lenders to help them stabilise and spot growth opportunities.”
Turnover in manufacturing and engineering firms decreased by 4% and 1% respectively, whilst that in services firms decreased by 3%. Recruitment turnover also showed a dip of 3% in the same period. As Peter Ewen comments, “The shaky economic picture is reflected in these key business sectors. The overall trend is upwards but growth is slow and continued expansion is by no means guaranteed.”
However, it’s not all doom and gloom: despite these decreases in domestic turnover, small businesses have made progress in export growth, with year-on-year turnover up by 83% to the end of 2011. International Manager Peter Brinsley says, “Whilst these stats are highly positive, most firms are starting from a low base in exports. Many businesses have been forced to seek overseas opportunities for the first time as they continue to struggle at home. That said, the fact that SMEs are increasingly enjoying international markets is certainly a step in the right direction.”
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