Saturday, July 13, 2024

Survey Data Shows A Decline In People Shopping With SMEs Across The UK As SMEs See Orders Fall By 12%

During the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, people found themselves at a loose end, wondering how to fill their days. This led to people turning their hand to starting their own businesses, with many supporting these businesses.

Parcel and courier delivery experts, Parcel2Go, noted this trend and according to their research, they noticed a 66.79% increase year on year in parcels being sent by SMEs throughout 2020.

This correlates with Companies House data which estimates that 113 more new SMEs were registered as opening in 2020 compared to 2019. 2020 saw 5,973 new SMEs during 2020, compared to 5,860 in 2019.

This uptake in small business ownership has gradually slowed down over the last 3 years. 2023 saw an estimated 5,547 SMEs open, a staggering 313 fewer than the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

This correlates with research conducted by Parcel2Go. They surveyed their SME customers to understand why they are seeing reduced ordering volumes. Of all those they surveyed, they noted that over the last 12 months, an average of 12% of respondents cited ‘lack of orders’ for their reduction in the volume of parcels being sent.

Whilst the Companies House numbers show a slight increase in new businesses opening their doors between 2022 and 2023, the survey indicates that less people are purchasing from the small businesses, and that their popularity and order volume may be dwindling compared to previous years.

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

Number of New Businesses











Speaking to SME customers, Parcel2Go noted that over the last 12 months, an average of 12% of respondents cited ‘lack of orders’ for their reduction in the volume of parcels being sent, further this % increasing into 2024 to 23%.

2023 2024
April 13% 23%
May 10%
June 10%
July 10%
August 8%
September 7%
October 8%
November 7%
December 8%
January 10%
February 18%
March 18%

The percentage of respondents to cite ‘lack of orders’ as a reason for a reduction in the number of parcels sent by a company.

Sarah Thompson, Head of Shipping, at Parcel2Go said – SME customers are important to Parcel2Go and the British economy which means we want to do all we can to support them. Seeing a downturn in SME activity since 2020 is understandable due to the cost of living crisis and current recession but this is a trend we would like to help change over the next 5 years to keep small businesses booming.

Parcel2Go experts noted a decline in parcels being sent by SMEs, which led them to offer some expert advice for SME owners and customers to support the growth of small businesses across the UK.

Build a solid business concept 

When starting a new business it is important to be able to define the business and what it may offer. By starting with a concept a business can be more easily defined and a business direction and purpose can quickly start to form.


Make sure you know all there is to know about the sector you want to start a business within. From the latest sector news to keeping up with what competitors are doing and finding out about your dream customer base, all this knowledge will help you ensure you are heading in the right direction.

Plan, plan, plan

When starting a small business it may feel like a business plan isn’t essential but this plan can help you to set business goals and objectives that keep your business on track. Being able to plan will also help you to stay profitable and find gaps in your business that could generate more income.

Promote yourself

Business promotion is a key part of finding your audience and customer base. This however can seem extremely daunting, especially to those who aren’t confident on social media. But being on social media and promoting your small business can help you to find the right customers to make your business successful.

By making sure you are up to speed on just the basics and remaining consistent you can find your customer base. There are several free online resources that can help you develop your skills and make the most out of your marketing efforts.

Ask for help!

When starting a small business you may think that to make it a success you need to go it alone but asking for help and guidance may be the key to your business’s success. Many different schemes are on offer, such as the Help To Grow scheme, which may take your business to the next level.

Claire James
Claire James
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

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