Back in mid-2020, we were all still getting used to the fact that COVID-19 had pulled the rug from under all our best-laid business plans. We’d come out of our first lockdown, it was summer, the sun was shining (occasionally) and the low numbers in the daily pandemic updates rather massaged our mutual sense of community spirit: keep a stiff upper lip and it should be over by Christmas.
Well, here we are a year later. We’ve now emerged from lockdown number three. Mutated and even-more-virulent strains of Covid have put the nation’s heroic care services under unprecedented strain and are currently on the rampage elsewhere around the globe. It’s still cold and wet outside (in May at least), many have either lost their jobs or are furloughed. People are not spending very much money and many businesses are in a real fight for survival. In summary, there has been a pretty grim expression on the faces of most of the good business folk of the UK.
Some statistics suggest it’s not over yet. While the impact of the pandemic on the labour market may be stabilising as vacancy levels increase and redundancies decrease since their peak in September-November 2020, unemployment is still expected to rise when the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme ends later this year.
But the recent news is better, for the UK at least. We now enjoy one of the lowest infection rates in the world and one of the most successful vaccination programmes. All that money that people haven’t been spending over the past year, on holidays, entertaining, travel, and such, is still there in the system, and as businesses cautiously welcome customers back, there’s evidence that people are ready to splash the cash.
If you’ve held out this far, and have made sound business plans for the future, there’s no need to panic. There will be life beyond the pandemic. But to enjoy it, and the things that really matter to you, your business needs to be in shape to make the most of the opportunities ahead.
 Howe of Commons Library research Briefing, 30 April 2021: https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8898/
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