Half-term, rail strikes and a third bank holiday in May all seem to have contrived to create a mixed picture for businesses this week. While the hospitality sector has struggled to get posteriors onto chairs and lost billions through cancellations because of lack of trains, free venues to which to take the children have been bustling. The cost of living crisis has turned minds from spending money on half term treats to finding family fun for free. The question on my mind is how long businesses affected by the tightening of belts can survive before the cost of doing business, with fewer customers spending less, pushes the doors permanently shut?
What we need is confidence and optimism, leading to innovation and investment. However the IoD says that after 5 months of rising confidence business optimism is no longer growing and only a third of IoD members think inflation has already peaked. The UK’s economic conditions, skills shortages and cost of energy are the top three business worries on the IoD’s top 10. Getting paid had slipped down to number 10. I should be hailing that as good news in an otherwise gloomy week and a sign that payment practices are improving, but my team tells me things are as bad as ever on the payments front and the reason overdue invoices aren’t higher up worry list is that everything else is an even bigger concern. We’re definitely not out of the woods yet.