A record number of small businesses faced downsizing or closure throughout the end of 2017, as sluggish demand and rising operating costs batter the industry.
According to a new survey published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), 14 per cent of small businesses are now expecting to scale down or stop trading, with retailers among the least optimistic.
A further 75 per cent reported rising operating costs over the first three quarters of 2017, while the FSB’s confidence index dropped into negative territory for the second time in five years.
Inflation and wavering consumer demand have meant 41 per cent of small businesses surveyed reported a fall in profits.
Nearly a third of companies expect their performance to continue its downward trend into the next quarter.
“While the swift agreement of a transitional arrangement and an ambitious free trade agreement with the EU are absolutely critical, it’s spiralling costs, weak growth and flagging consumer demand at home that are front of mind for small firms day to day,” FSB chairman Mike Cherry said.