Half of small businesses are fearful about next year

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And to mark the season of goodwill, almost half (44 percent) of small and medium-sized firms will host a party.

The figures come from survey of 578 business leaders, commissioned by Barclays, as part of its quarterly SME Barometer research.

It shows that some 41 percent will shut down operations entirely between Christmas and New Year.

And a quarter will hand out Christmas bonuses to staff.

However, the festive cheer is tempered by warnings nearly half (47 percent) of SMEs report worries about their business prospects for next year.

Some 68 percent are concerned about the negative impact of rising energy bills.

Larger enterprises are feeling the pinch too. Nearly two thirds (59 percent) predict a decrease in consumer spending, while 41 percent are worried about their business’s prospects as they approach 2023.

Colin O’Flaherty, at Barclaycard Payments, said: “While it’s been another challenging year for businesses, many SMEs are looking to inject some festive cheer by rewarding employees, as business owners are aware of the positive impact morale can have on staff retention. Our research, however, shows that although owners are very aware of the difficulties to come, they remain resilient in the face of risings costs.”

The study found 41 percent of SME workers believe activities leading up to Christmas affect staff retention.

A separate poll of 2,000 consumers, found a third say they are less likely to look for another job if their employer rewards staff over the festive period.

Of employers seeing an increase in demand for benefits at work, more annual leave is one of the top three perks requested, according to 28 percent of SMEs, behind higher wages (87 percent) and more flexible working (56 percent).

Data from Barclaycard Payments – which processes £1 in every £3 of all UK card payments – showed a slight decrease of 1.58 percent in card payments to SMEs from July to September, compared with the same period in 2021.

But more than half (55 percent) reported their total revenue grew – with turnover up around 9.1 percent year-on-year, on average. Half of firms (51 percent) predict a year-on-year revenue rise in their fourth quarters, and 49 percent expect revenues to grow from Q3 to Q4 this year.

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