In the last 12 months, many UK employees have changed career due to redundancies and uncertainty around furlough. Additionally, the pandemic has been the spark that a lot of people needed to take the leap into something different. By June last year, new business formations had grown by a record-breaking 47%, and this trend is showing no signs of stopping.
In fact, according to research by poster print specialists, instantprint, the economic ups and downs of the last year haven’t put off the business owners of the future. As workers have made the move from employee to entrepreneur status in the last year, almost a fifth of UK adults (18%) want to follow in their footsteps and start a business of their own in 2021.
The research also revealed that the sector that saw the most start-up businesses in 2020 was retail. The findings show that of almost half a million (468,371) new businesses that were registered last year, 22,011 of these were across retail, covering both online and via mail order.
The popularity of retail
The popularity of the retail sector among budding entrepreneurs is perhaps unsurprising. This is an industry that was already seeing huge growth in recent years before we went into lockdown. However, the number of those shopping online shot up when almost half (46.6%) of workers set up at home during the first UK lockdown.
During this time, access to high street stores became limited and businesses with physical outlets had to make the move to digital retail to keep up. Meanwhile, existing online businesses saw record sales, with behemoth Amazon tripling its profits, seeing a 37% boost in earnings.
Overall, around 40% of consumers did more shopping online during lockdown, based on findings by Deliotte’s Digital Consumer Trends survey. Additionally, delivery services have been running throughout the lockdowns, making it easier than ever to order online and receive your goods in a few working days.
All of this points towards fresh opportunities for new business owners. Ecommerce sites and online shopping continue to be popular, while mail order offers a door to door retail experience. So, this reflects the number of businesses that have registered across the retail sector.
What people are searching for
We’re all shopping for new things online. From our weekly food shop, which saw major supermarkets rapidly upgrade their websites to cope with demand, to plants and DIY equipment, our thoughts turned to the world that we were now in.
Suddenly, we had time to finally get round to painting the house and upgrading our gardens. These shopping trends have continued into 2021, with more of us buying garden furniture in preparation for socialising again outdoors in the coming months.
While the country begins to prepare to ease out of lockdown and high street stores get ready to reopen, it’s likely that we’ll continue to buy online now that we’ve discovered just how much is available with a few taps on the screen or a click of a mouse – and this means there are still plenty of opportunities for new SMEs in the retail sector.
Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail’s Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today’s ever-changing market.