Festive Season: Last Hope for Struggling Small Businesses Amidst Shoplifting Crisis

Critical Christmas Trading Period Could Make or Break SMEs Facing Unprecedented Challenges

2 mins read
Festive decoration Christmas

Key Takeaways:

  • Dire Straits for SMEs: Over half of small business owners may face closure or seek alternate employment without a successful festive season.
  • Rampant Shoplifting Woes: Shoplifting has hit hard, with significant losses reported by nearly a fifth of small businesses.
  • Festive Shopping as a Lifeline: Small business owners emphasize the crucial role of local community support during the festive season.

The Festive Season: A Crucial Period for SMEs

As the festive season approaches, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United Kingdom are facing a make-or-break situation. According to recent research by Simply Business, over half (54%) of SME owners are on the brink of closure, pausing business plans, or looking for alternative employment if the festive trading period does not yield successful results. This comes at the end of a year marked by economic challenges, particularly hitting small businesses hard.

The Impact of Shoplifting on Small Businesses

Shoplifting has emerged as a significant threat to small businesses, with half of the owners reporting it as a major problem. The statistics are alarming, with nearly a fifth (16%) of SME owners experiencing losses between £1,001 and £5,000 due to shoplifting this year. This issue has led many to adopt measures such as enhanced surveillance, increased staff presence, and collaboration with local shops for crime reporting.

Scaling Back Festive Celebrations

The financial strain on small business owners is not just affecting their businesses but also their personal lives. A fifth (21%) of owners report that they will have to reduce their family’s festive celebrations due to tight finances.

Voices from the Frontline

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Caitrin Kincaid, the owner of Cube Fun in Northern Ireland, shared her experience: “Christmas is absolutely crucial in respect of sales, and last Christmas, my small business was severely hindered by the cost of living crisis and the Royal Mail strikes. This year I am relying heavily on Christmas sales to keep the business afloat going into 2024.”

Small Businesses: The Backbone of the Economy

Alan Thomas, UK CEO at Simply Business, commented: “Small businesses have been dealt a very challenging hand in 2023… They are quite simply the backbone of the economy and need our support more than ever.” He stressed the importance of local shopping and supporting small businesses during the Christmas season.

Financial Challenges and Survival Strategies

The current economic climate has forced many SMEs to turn to personal savings, bank loans, or loans from family and friends to keep their businesses running. Over half (52%) of SMEs anticipate a decrease in profits by up to 20% by the end of 2023 compared to the previous year.

The Role of Simply Business

Simply Business, a leading UK business insurance provider, specializes in insuring over 900,000 small businesses and landlords. The company has been a strong advocate for the support of SMEs, emphasizing the critical role of the festive trading period for these businesses’ survival and success.


The festive season of 2023 stands as a critical juncture for small businesses across the UK. With the twin challenges of the economic downturn and the rise in shoplifting, SMEs are banking on the support of their local communities to survive and thrive. It’s a call to action for consumers to recognize the essential role of small businesses and support them during this pivotal trading period.

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About Simply Business:

  • Simply Business provides tailored insurance solutions for SMEs, insuring a wide range of trade types and has been recognized for its positive social impact and employee satisfaction. Learn more at Simply Business.

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