Businesses are reporting their optimism in regards to the reopening of non-essential retail and the gradual end of lockdowns throughout the coming year.

This comes via the latest quarterly SME Barometer from Barclaycard, which shows that small and medium enterprises’ plans for reopening are already well underway.

SME sentiment has steadily risen by 19 points, Barclaycard revealed, to 98 from an early-pandemic low of 79 out of 200, as businesses prepare for economic recovery.


Furthermore, SMEs predict an 8.1% rise in revenue in 2021 despite a forecasted 7.5% drop in Q1.

Meanwhile, nearly four in ten (39%) SMEs say they are optimistic about their prospects.

Though the future still looks uncertain for many, nearly a quarter (24%) say their output has already surpassed or returned to the pre-pandemic levels of January 2020.

When economic recovery does get underway, the top ways SMEs are preparing to take advantage of it are by: increasing marketing spend, with 62% having done so or planning to; saving cash (42%); or changing their offering to cater to customers once life opens back up to a ‘new normal’ (42%).

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments, said: “While 2021 offers all of us hope for a national recovery, small businesses especially are looking forward to emerging from coronavirus uncertainty.

“SMEs have proven their agility, adapting quickly to get online, catering to a nation stuck at home and changing how their teams get the job done.

“While the world may be returning to some form of normal this year, small businesses have realised the benefits of flexible working and digital skills, with many already looking at what improvements they can take forward into 2021.

“As a banking and payments partner, we’re here to help our SME customers get online at this crucial time, and finance the changes they need to prepare for whatever comes next.”