Dismal December – 1 in 6 UK businesses impacted by strikes, while transport costs topped importers’ woes

A new Government report reveals Britain’s businesses faced a torrid December. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) Business Insights survey reveal industrial action was their main problem. Strikes and related action impacted one in six companies, with 25% of affected businesses unable to obtain essential goods and 21% losing access to key services.

The international delivery expert ParcelHero says that, looking ahead, the chief concern for one in five UK firms (19%) is the ongoing impact of energy prices. This is followed by price inflation (16% of businesses) and falling demand (13% of firms).

However, it’s Britain’s beleaguered importers and exporters who are facing some of the most significant challenges.  ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Around 24% of the 40,000 UK businesses surveyed said they have imported and 19% have exported over the last 12 months.

‘While these doughty companies are not facing the same level of challenges that they were immediately post-Brexit, international trade still presents some major obstacles. In all, 41% of those companies trading overseas reported they had experienced a significant challenge doing so; the most widely reported concern was rising transport costs. In total, a whopping 29.6% of importers and 25.4% of exporters cited transportation fees as their main concern for December compared to the previous month.

‘These increased transport costs were largely down to international delivery and logistics companies raising their rates to cover rising fuel bills and other price increases.

‘Next on global traders’ worry-lists came additional paperwork, impacting 27.1% of importers and 25.1% of exporters. Importers have told ParcelHero that proof of origin red tape, determining whether a product was manufactured solely in the EU or not, remains a major headache.

‘By December, exchange rates had settled somewhat from their scary Liz Truss-era ride, but they remained a concern: 25.1% of importers and 24.3% of exporters said they were an ongoing challenge.

‘Other post-Brexit difficulties continue to play a part. Customs duties and UK border disruption were named as ongoing issues. 19.8% of Britain’s importers found Customs duties challenging, as did 15.8% of exporters.

‘Disruption at UK borders was not entirely surprising, as UK border control officials walked off the job at the end of December. 12.9% of importers and 9% of exporters experienced increased issues.

‘Despite this list of negatives, however, the UK’s overall international trade situation continues to improve, and many companies are now preparing to enter this lucrative market.”