Business insights and impact on the UK economy: 5 May 2022

The impact of challenges facing the economy and other events on UK businesses. Based on responses from the voluntary fortnightly business survey (BICS) to deliver real-time information to help assess issues affecting UK businesses and economy, including financial performance, workforce, trade, and business resilience.

This is not the latest release. View latest release

26 May 2022 09:00

A correction has been made to the estimates referring to workforce status in Figure 1 and quoted under Figure 1. No other estimates were affected. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

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Cyswllt:
Email Emily Hopson

Dyddiad y datganiad:
5 May 2022

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
19 May 2022

1. Main points

  • Of currently trading businesses, 20% reported that their turnover decreased in March 2022 compared with February 2022, in contrast 14% reported turnover had increased.

  • Half (50%) of businesses currently trading reported an increase in the prices of materials, goods or services bought in March 2022, up from 39% in February 2022; in comparison, the percentage of businesses who reported an increase in the prices of materials, goods or services sold increased from 17% to 24% over the same period.

  • Almost a third of currently trading businesses (31%) reported they expected the price of goods or services sold in April 2022 to increase (excluding seasonal changes), with energy prices (41%) reported as the main factor for businesses considering raising their prices.

  • In late April 2022, having to absorb costs (38%) and having to pass on price increases to customers (27%) were reported as the biggest impacts on businesses because of general price rises; these percentages have increased slightly since early March 2022 from 35% and 24%, respectively.

  • In late April 2022, 31% of businesses reported their production and/or suppliers had been affected by recent increases in energy prices, with the accommodation and food service activities industry reporting the highest percentage, at 64%.

  • Among businesses not permanently stopped trading, 7% of businesses reported their stock levels of raw materials in March 2022 were lower than in February 2022, whereas 4% reported stock levels were higher; across the same period, 6% of businesses reported their stock levels of finished goods were also lower.

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2. Headline figures

The data presented in this bulletin are the final results from Wave 55 of the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS), which was live for the period 19 April to 1 May 2022.

Please note, from Wave 54 (April 2022), we have rationalised the number of questions asked each wave and references to "normal expectations" have been replaced with a defined reference period for businesses to compare against. We have also introduced specified time periods in some of our questions, giving us a more targeted snapshot of what businesses are experiencing, and when. Please find further details of these changes within the blog: Times they are a-changing: and with them, two key ONS surveys.

Periods referred to in each question should be kept in mind in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance as the estimates could be affected by both the location of the business and the date on which the business responded.

For experimental single-site weighted regional estimates up to Wave 49 (24 January to 6 February 2022), please see Understanding the business impacts of local and national restrictions, UK: February 2022.

Please note, businesses were asked to exclude seasonal changes when answering questions contained within BICS.

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Figure 1: Headline figures from the Business Insights and Conditions Survey

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Notes:
  1. Trading status, business resilience, workforce status: for presentational purposes, response options have been combined and/or removed.
  2. Workforce status: from Wave 55, the question changed to ask about a specific calendar month rather than “the last two weeks” in relation to the time of completion.
  3. Prices: for presentational purposes, the data shows an increase to prices bought and sold compared with the previous calendar month.
  4. Prices: from Wave 55, the question changed to ask about a specific calendar month rather than “over the last month, compared with normal price fluctuations" in relation to the time of completion.
  5. Data are plotted in the middle of the period of each wave.
Download the data

.xlsx

In late April 2022, 94% of businesses reported they were trading, with 85% fully trading and 9% partially trading. Meanwhile, 4% of businesses were temporarily paused trading and 2% were permanently ceased trading.

Businesses not permanently stopped trading were asked, during March 2022 approximately what percentage of their workforce were:

  • using a hybrid model of working – 21%
  • working from home – 9%
  • working from a designated workspace – 63%
  • on sick leave, or not working due to coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, self-isolation or quarantine – 2%
  • made permanently redundant – less than 1%
  • other – 6%
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3. Prices

Prices bought and sold

Between February and March 2022, there was a rise in the percentage of businesses currently trading who reported that the prices of materials, goods or services bought had increased, from 39% to 50%. In comparison, the percentage of businesses that reported the prices of materials, goods or services sold had increased rose from 17% to 24% over the same period.

Price expectations

Of businesses currently trading, 31% expected to increase the prices of the goods or services they sold in April 2022. Businesses currently trading reported energy prices as a factor when considering raising prices, at 41%. The accommodation and food service activities industry reported the highest proportion of businesses selecting energy prices as a factor, at 78%.

Across all industries, other factors reported included:

  • raw material prices, at 33%, with the manufacturing industry reporting the highest percentage at 58%

  • labour costs, at 26%, with the accommodation and food service activities industry reporting the highest percentage at 53%

Energy prices

Nearly a third (31%) of businesses reported that their production and/or suppliers were affected by recent increases in energy prices in late April 2022, while 24% reported their business had not been affected. These percentages are up from 29% and down from 26%, respectively, in early April 2022.

Impact of price rises

In late April 2022, businesses not permanently stopped trading were asked in which ways their business had been affected by any price rises they had experienced.

More than half (58%) of businesses reported they were affected by general increases in prices in one or more ways.

The following industries reported the greatest percentage for the top two reported impacts:

  • had to absorb costs – with the accommodation and food service activities industry reporting the highest at 58%

  • had to pass on price increases to customers – with the manufacturing and accommodation and food service activities industries reporting the highest at 43%

Domestic demand

Of businesses not permanently stopped trading, 13% reported domestic demand for goods and services had decreased in March 2022 compared with February 2022, while 8% reported an increase, and 47% reported demand stayed the same.

The wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles and accommodation and food service activities industries reported the highest percentage of businesses stating a decrease, at 24%. The wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles industry percentage was partially being driven by the retail trade not in stores sub-industry. This is in line with the recently published retail sales, reporting a fall in sales volume.

The manufacturing industry reported the largest proportion of businesses with an increase in demand, at 17%. The human health and social work activities industry reported, at 71%, the largest proportion where demand stayed the same.

Further response options broken down by industry and size band can be found in the accompanying dataset.

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4. Financial performance

The accommodation and food service activities industry reported the highest proportion of businesses experiencing a decrease in turnover, at 34%. This was being partially driven by the food and beverage service activities sub-industry.

Currently trading businesses reported the cost of materials as having the biggest impact on their turnover in the last month, at 30%. The accommodation and food service activities industry reported the largest proportion of business reporting this challenge, at 61%.

Other challenges businesses reported as having an impact were:

  • economic uncertainty, at 25%

  • cost of labour, at 15%

  • competition, at 13%

In comparison, 33% of currently trading businesses reported they were not currently experiencing any challenges.

Businesses not permanently stopped trading were asked how their staffing costs had changed over the past three months. A third (33%) of businesses reported that their staffing costs had increased, with the accommodation and food service activities industry reporting the highest percentage, at 67%.

When looking forward, 29% of all businesses reported they expect staffing costs to increase in the next three months.

Further response options broken down by industry and size band can be found in the accompanying dataset.

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5. Stock levels

Stock levels of raw materials and finished goods

Businesses not permanently stopped trading were asked how their stock levels of raw materials and finished goods in March 2022 compared with February 2022.

In relation to stocks of raw materials, 7% of businesses not permanently stopped trading reported that their stock levels were lower in March 2022 than in February 2022, a further 4% reported that their stock levels were higher in March 2022. Approximately a quarter (23%) of businesses reported that their stock levels had stayed the same. The remainder either reported “not sure” or “not applicable”.

For businesses reporting on their stock levels of finished goods, 6% reported lower levels and 3% reported higher levels, across the same period. Around one in five (21%) of businesses reported their stock levels had stayed the same.

Response options broken down by industry, trading status and size band, for raw material and finished goods stock questions can be found in the accompanying dataset.

Stockpiling

Businesses not permanently stopped trading were asked whether they were stockpiling any goods or materials, to which 6% of all businesses reported they were, up from 4% in early January 2022.

The wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles industry and the manufacturing industry reported the largest percentage of businesses stockpiling goods or materials, both at 13%. These percentages are up from 11% and 10%, respectively, since the start of the year.

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6. Business Insights and Conditions Survey data

Business insights and impact on the UK economy
Dataset | Released 5 May 2022
Weighted estimates from the voluntary fortnightly Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) about financial performance, workforce, prices, trade, and business resilience. This dataset includes additional information collected as part of the survey not presented in this publication.

Business insights and impact on the UK economy confidence intervals
Dataset | Released 27 January 2022
Confidence intervals for weighted estimates from the voluntary fortnightly business survey (BICS) about financial performance, workforce, prices, trade, and business resilience. These data are not official statistics but have been developed to deliver timely indicators to help understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and other events.

Access to microdata

You can access the BICS microdata for Waves 1 to 54 through the Secure Research Service (SRS). The BICS microdata for each wave are released on a rolling basis in the week following the publication of each wave. The microdata are made confidential and do not disclose information on any specific business.

Only researchers accredited under the Digital Economy Act are able to access data in the SRS. You can apply for accreditation through the Research Accreditation Service (RAS). You need to have relevant academic or work experience and must successfully attend and complete the assessed Safe Researcher Training.

To conduct analysis with microdata from the SRS, a project application must be submitted to the Research Accreditation Panel (RAP). To access the SRS, you must also work for an organisation with an Assured Organisational Connectivity agreement in place.

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7. Glossary

Reporting unit

The business unit to which questionnaires are sent is called the reporting unit. The response from the reporting unit can cover the enterprise as a whole or parts of the enterprise identified by lists of local units.

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8. Measuring the data

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in our Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) QMI, updated on 24 January 2022.

The BICS is voluntary, and the results are experimental. More information is available in the Guide to experimental statistics.

The results are based on responses from the voluntary fortnightly BICS, which captures businesses' views on financial performance, workforce, prices, trade, and business resilience. The Wave 55 survey was live for the period 19 April to 1 May 2022. The survey questions are available.

Coverage

The Monthly Business Survey (MBS) covers the UK for production and Great Britain only for services. The Retail Sales Index (RSI) and construction are Great Britain focused. Therefore, the BICS will be UK-focused for production-based industries but Great Britain-focused for the other elements of the economy covered. The industries covered are:

  • non-financial services (includes professional, scientific, communication, administrative, transport, accommodation and food, private health and education, and entertainment services)

  • distribution (includes retail, wholesale, and motor trades)

  • production (includes manufacturing, oil and gas extraction, energy generation and supply, and water and waste management)

  • construction (includes civil engineering, housebuilding, property development and specialised construction trades such as plumbers, electricians, and plasterers)

The following industries are excluded from the survey:

  • agriculture

  • public administration and defence

  • public provision of education and health

  • finance and insurance

For more information on the methodology of producing the BICS, such as weighting, please see the BICS QMI.

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9. Strengths and limitations

More quality and methodology information on strengths, limitations, appropriate uses, and how the data were created is available in the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) QMI.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Emily Hopson
bics@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 1633 455592