93 percent of UK retailers say sustainability is a focus for the year ahead

The pandemic, Brexit and the rise in National Insurance listed as current challenges for small retail businesses

Despite facing challenges from the pandemic, Brexit and the rise in National Insurance in the UK, 93 percent of small retailers will be making sustainability a focus for the next 12 months. 59 percent of businesses went as far as to say it’s a ‘big focus’ for the year ahead.

The survey of 565 UK-based retailers was carried out by Creoate, the UK-based B2B marketplace, to assess their stance on current issues, challenges and priorities.

When asked how they would be making their business more sustainable, the most popular response from retailers was by ‘choosing products which are more sustainable/eco-friendly’ (84 percent), followed by ‘stocking more local products’ (68 percent), and ‘reviewing [their] own packaging/bags’ (64 percent).

Credit: Creoate

The retailers surveyed who selected ‘other’ (4 percent) had some interesting suggestions for what they’re doing to make their business more sustainable; from considering how they travel to work, to planting a tree for every purchase.

Hannah Whitfield from Creoate says the results from the survey show clearly show that a small business-heavy economy is a positive thing for our planet.

“When asked why sustainability was a focus for these businesses, the answers were touching, and often conveyed a huge amount of passion and commitment, with sustainability at the very heart of their mission. While larger retailers become more sustainable because of external pressure, for newer, smaller businesses, it seems sustainability is often baked in from day one.” says Hannah.

‘Sustainability is at the core of my business. We are the only children’s store in the UK to be Planet Mark certified, meaning we report our carbon data year on year with a commitment to reduce our impact.’

– The response from one survey participant

It’s clear from the survey that small retail businesses still have a lot to contend with. For those who had experienced business life pre-pandemic, 48 percent said they were still feeling the negative impact in their business today. 41 percent of retailers with brick and mortar stores said they experience less footfall now as a result of increased working from home, and hybrid working patterns.

Even more of an issue was Brexit, with 42 percent of surveyed businesses saying this was their ‘biggest current challenge’. 37 percent are also ‘somewhat concerned’ about the future raise to National Insurance.

The survey results in summary:

  • 93 percent of UK retailers say sustainability is either a ‘focus’ or ‘a big focus’ for the next 12 months.
  • This is despite concerns over NI rises, wfh-related loss of footfall, and Brexit presenting the ‘biggest challenge’ to 42 percent of retailers currently.
  • The most popular method of becoming more sustainable was to stock ‘more eco-friendly/sustainable products’, second to ‘stocking more local products’.
  • 43 percent of respondents had been in business for less than a year, and 93 percent have five full-time employees or fewer.
UK indie retailers are leading the way in sustainability. Infographic from Creoate
UK indie retailers are leading the way in sustainability. Credit: Creoate

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Charli Ferrand

Charli wrote her first novel at the tender age of 9, then dabbled in the idea of becoming a professional ballerina for a few years, before returning to her love of writing, acquiring a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Film & Broadcast from Cardiff University in the UK. A three-month holiday in Australia turned into a 11 year residency, during which Charli cemented her career in PR & Marketing Communications working with some of the biggest brands in the world. She also gained her citizenship, discovered her passion for sustainability and eventually ended up coming full circle, combining her professional skills with her love of the planet and oceans into her role as Editor-in-Chief of Earth Collective. A trained journalist, experienced communications professional and qualified Mental Health First Aider, Charli has her finger on the pulse of the latest political and environmental developments around the world. You can find her writing about current affairs, political activism and mental health.

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