Newspage asked thousands of small businesses how their Christmas 2021 trading period was, given the upheaval caused by Omicron, and what their thoughts are for 2022. A selection of responses are below.
16 responses from the Newspage community
Christmas is always a quiet time for the property market however what normally happens is that there is a buildup of momentum during the break which leads to increased enquiries during the festive season ready to hit the New Year running. However, the surging omicron variant along with the ludicrous raising of the Bank of England base rate when the economy was going into freefall put paid to that. Hopefully, the booster rollout gathers momentum and we will see levels return to normal."
Though Christmas itself is usually a quiet time for web design, there is usually a buzz of new clients looking for website builds in the New Year. However, that buzz was notably lower this year as the continued uncertainty that Omicron is creating has people scared to commit to even more outgoings. The start of 2022 is definitely lean for my business and I'm having to concentrate on lower ticket services to make up for the shortfall."
"The whole build-up to Christmas and the New Year was extremely stressful. With so much scaremongering flying around, events were on a constant knife edge as to whether they’d proceed or not. Thankfully they did. Demand for performers went through the roof, as DJs were dropping like flies following positive tests, leaving organisers scrapping to secure last minute acts."
"For Boris to say that we are in a better position than last December is only half the story. Reduced sales, significant pressure on an isolating workforce and only minimal support are hidden behind a flashy headline. More needs to be done. The hospitality industry is a vital part of our economy and people need to support it now so that it can contribute to the UK's recovery throughout 2022." "The Government should extend a reduction in VAT until the end of 2022 for hospitality, tourism and leisure, and reduce business rates to zero for those sectors until March 2022. It should also create more grants to support the great businesses investing in our high streets across the UK."
"The Omicron variant, regardless of its strength, trashed the hospitality and event industry. Over the past month, we have seen football matches postponed in the UK, resulting in our clients having to reschedule their hospitality plans. In Ireland, the Leopardstown Christmas Festival sadly had to take place behind closed doors at the last minute, resulting in us having to refund our clients. Thankfully we have virtual events scheduled this month, I'm keeping everything crossed the Six Nations can be held as planned in February and March. A clear roadmap and communication strategy is key to enable our businesses to survive, right now, but both are worrying absent."
The uncertainty of COVID restrictions put us massively behind on sales as our core customers didn't know if they'd be requiring our services or not and whilst the restrictions caused an uplift in interest it was far too late for us to fulfil the requirements due to supply chain issues so we were caught in no mans land between having orders but not being able to accept them! I do feel it would have been a lot better had the restrictions been put in place a few weeks earlier to make it easier for everyone.
"For those of us working in international tourism, the Christmas trading period was non-existent. The travel and aviation sectors have been among the worst affected by the pandemic and yet just as we began a tentative recovery, in comes the re-introduction of significant Covid-19 restrictions, yet again damaging consumer and business confidence. These restrictions don't just impact our sector economically but there's a real human impact as well. International travel needs to be brought in line with all other parts of our economy and society."
"In the week before Christmas, zero clients out of the 10 booked turned up. In the week after Christmas, zero clients out of the 5 booked turned up. I can't go on like this and hope my business is eligible for some of the money Rishi Sunak says is coming to small businesses this month. Otherwise the future is bleak at best."
I'm a digital strategy agency owner who is also a working mother - my biggest fear when it comes to Omicron this year is the lockdown of schools which will have a detrimental impact on my business as I will have significantly less time to spend working.
"With shoppers returning to the high street with more confidence than they had earlier in the year, sales were certainly down on the previous year for our online toy shop. However, the sudden explosion of Omicron shortly before Christmas resulted in many shoppers quickly reverting to shopping online for their last minute Christmas gifts, with 'express delivery' orders up by 53% on December 2020."
"Rather than 'Rocking Around the Christmas Tree', for hospitality the festive period was more of a 'Silent Night'. Events ran at reduced capacity and cancellations were rife due to mixed messages from the Government. Hopefully there'll be 'Jingle Bells' by Easter."
"Christmas 2021 was unusually quiet for us. As resilience and wellbeing training providers, we would expect this to be a busy period. But our lack of contact with clients highlighted how many businesses and organisations were too busy firefighting the threat of Omicron to think about staff support needs. Now we are seeing a surge in bookings as our clients realise the false economy of putting staff mental health and wellbeing support on the backburner."
"Despite deciding not to book any pitches at Christmas Fayres this year, which often make up a good chunk of our November and December takings, we managed to get by on online sales. The only downside was the current stress on the postal system and the inevitable delays, I decided to bring the cut off date for orders forward this year and lost 4-5 days of sales. However, I felt this was the right thing to do to avoid any last minute stress for me and disappointment for customers."
"Christmas 2021 was the quietest December we have ever known in the bridal industry. The cause, of course, was the uncertainty of pending lockdowns and appointments cancelled due to testing clients and positive guests. Traditionally, December is quiet for a bridal boutique but this year it has been beyond anything we have ever seen. We are optimistic that next year will be better than 2020 and 2021 as we are currently up on appointments and bookings for the beginning of the new year."
"Everything was going fine until our logistics partner DPD decided to not deliver 20% of our product. Their excuse at the time wasn't CoVid, but, wait for it, Christmas, as it's busy. One week, 20% of our hampers, which average around £160 each, were left in the depot and, because they have fresh produce in, had to be put in the bin. Yes you read it. The bin. We were told we could make a claim so we resent all the hampers the following week. All the contents, all the packaging, all the man hours, everything. Then, we are told, its a mistake, we can't claim. We now face a legal battle and I am now waiting for the standard Covid excuse when we put our legal claim in, with our reputation shattered with some big corporate clients. Our life and soul and all our savings have gone into this business for it to be potentially crushed at the first hurdle with a logistics partner who quite frankly couldn't give a damn about us."
Hospitality and city centre businesses got stuffed more than smaller towns for Christmas but now January 2022 is looking like a turkey. Uncertainty for most businesses in what is usually a quiet January makes for a tougher than usual start - That’s why ShopAppy is declaring 2022 the year to love local and encouraging people to make a New Years resolution to shop local more to stimulate local and national recovery - after all we will want to ensure these businesses are still there for us to enjoy when the current wave subsides.