Brexit and Covid uncertainty prompts SMEs to buy local and go digital

According to Chartered Accountants Wylie & Bisset, uncertainty around Brexit and ongoing Covid-19 restrictions is prompting a growing number of Scottish SMEs to buy local and go digital.

oct20 catherine livingstone

Catherine Livingstone, Director, said that several of the firm’s clients with European suppliers have taken steps to safeguard their short-term futures by stockpiling goods they need from overseas and engaging local suppliers as a viable alternative in light of ongoing Brexit and Covid uncertainty.

Wylie & Bisset is advising such clients to consider the availability and reliability of local suppliers and weigh up the cost implications of how that will impact on their businesses.

“Costs are potentially going to rise with Brexit and, if they do, businesses need to consider if they can cope with the implications of that,” she said.

“Do they need to re-budget, knowing that their production costs are likely to rise? Will they be able to offset such a rise by increasing their prices or could they withstand a reduced profit margin?”

According to Livingstone, this uncertainty is leading some businesses to be more willing to pay more to source goods locally to secure supply. “There’s been a fundamental shift in the thought process of some businesses which are no longer automatically opting for the least expensive supply option as, while costs remain vital, more businesses want to support local businesses where they can,” she said.

“At the same time, Covid has led many businesses to go digital and establish an online presence for the first time. The ‘new normal’ seems to be that consumers buy goods and services online and companies buy goods locally where possible.”

According to Federation of Small Businesses Scotland figures, one in seven Scottish SMEs ‘innovated’ during the crisis – such as a restaurant providing takeaway food or a bakery launching a delivery service.

Livingstone suggests that the buy local trend will be bolstered further by the recent launch of a Scottish Government £1m fund as part of efforts to support town centres and promote online businesses. Under the Scotland Loves Local scheme, businesses will be able to access grants of between £500 and £5,000 to encourage people to spend money in their community.

For further information please contact Catherine Livingstone on 0141 566 7000

Issued on behalf of Wylie & Bisset by Liquorice Media tel 0141 332 4935

Date: 22 Oct20