The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has asked shoppers to abide by the “house rules” of small firms across England despite England lifting coronavirus restrictions from today.
Despite mandatory masks being scrapped, UK retailers are broadly still encouraging their customers to wear masks.
Meanwhile Transport for London passengers are still required to wear masks, as enforcement officers in London will be able to deny access or eject passengers who are not complying.
Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman said: “As England fully reopens, small businesses are, in the main, well-positioned to take full advantage of the opportunities on offer to them as the economy recovers.
“While restrictions have now been lifted, we’re urging all shoppers to respect the house rules at each business they visit from today, as owners strive to keep customers and staff safe.
“The government and police should be getting the message across that firms will be supported if customers refuse to abide by their terms of doing business.
“Small businesses have invested time and money preparing for today’s reopening, swiftly adapting to help keep covid numbers as low as possible.
Half of small business owners (50%) predict that their business performance will improve in the next three months, compared to one in three (32%) who expect it to worsen.
One in five (21%) intend to increase staffing levels in the next three months, and 54% expect to grow their businesses, the highest proportion since Q1 2017.
Indeed, the share of firms citing lack of access to appropriately skilled staff as a barrier to growth has soared to its highest level on record (37%).
The pandemic has been very challenging for the retail sector.
Nearly two thirds of small businesses surveyed (64%) said that operating costs had increased in the past quarter compared to last year, up 0.20% from Q1 2021.
Four in 10 (42%) cite inputs, such as raw materials and components, as a main contributor to this increase, up 0.12% on the last quarter.
Labour costs (36%), utilities (28%), and fuel (26%) are also frequently flagged as sources of rising costs, as inflationary pressure takes hold.