How to prepare your SME for Christmas amid Brexit uncertainty


One in three micro SMEs (34%) say Brexit is bad for Christmas trading, while 6% say it is good, according to an AXA UK survey that suggests their main concern, if any, has to do with smaller consumer demand.

AXA UK is offering some advice for small businesses keen to avoid any potential supply chain disruption.

The survey

Almost 500 small businesses employing 0 to 9 people were polled as the UK prepares to leave the European Union, possibly on 31 October, with or without a deal.

Half the micro SMEs that bring in stock for Christmas plan to do so at the same time as last year but 22% will do it earlier. Two percent will do it later and 28% don’t know yet.

While the majority of SME owners (60%) expect Brexit to have no impact on their activity over the Christmas trading period, 18% expect it to have a negative impact and 5% to have a positive impact. In the short term, 21% expect smaller consumer demand, 11% delays for imported goods and 10% product shortages.

Those who prepare for potential economic consequences mainly do so by reducing their expenses and putting more savings aside.

The advice

However, SMEs can take other steps to stop a Halloween Brexit ruining their Christmas season.

Douglas Barnett, Director of Mid-Market and Customer Risk Management, explains how small businesses can prevent supply chain disruption.

Know your supplier (and your supplier’s supplier)

As an SME, you likely buy your goods from local wholesalers. But do you know who supplies them? You may want to ask them whether they expect any disruption, and if they have made provisions to bring in goods early or have set up any alternative arrangements. Looking now for alternative suppliers for stock your customers will expect would be time well spent.

Allow extra time or have a backup plan

If customs and excise carry out more checks, there might be backlogs at entry ports. In case your stock gets stuck on the dockside, you may want to allow for delays, or perhaps consider a back-up plan.

Get storage – and insure accordingly

If you bring in stock earlier, check you have the capacity to store it or find additional storage. If you use a different warehouse from your current one, or even your home, let your insurer know as they may want to inspect it. With a bigger stock in, update your sums insured to ensure the right level of cover.

Hire right

You may want to coordinate your staffing levels with your stock volumes and timings. In the hospitality and leisure sectors, you will probably find it more difficult to hire seasonal staff among non-UK nationals, faced with status uncertainties. This reduced availability might have repercussions in other sectors.

Buffer your cash flow

For many businesses, the Christmas season accounts for a large chunk of their annual income. If people spend less or if the buying peak is delayed, this will have an impact on your cash flow. You may want to buffer it.

The survey tables

498 owners of micro SMEs (0-9 employees) responded to this online survey, carried out by Taylor McKenzie between 9 and 16 August.


Latest video

AXA video: The 2015 Cumbrian Floods – A customer’s perspective

The Cumbrian floods that occurred in December 2015 may seem like a distant memory.  Sadly, this is not the case for some of AXA’s household customers.Watch... click here for more