Ahead of the last bank holiday of the year, new research from Three Business reveals the huge contribution that the summer economy makes to Brighton.
The research shows coastal SMEs in Brighton contribute £379 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the local economy and are part of the wider summer economy, worth £3.15bn in GVA to the UK.
Peak months from June to August support over 600 local businesses and 15,000 jobs across Brighton.
Wet weather won’t dampen bumper summer
Despite a damp start, business leaders in Brighton have still seen an uptick in visitor numbers, which has provided a “welcome summer boost” for businesses.
This builds on Three Business’ national survey of coastal SMEs, which found that nearly two thirds (64%) felt that the summer months would be good for their business when asked ahead of the season.
Naturally, seaside businesses are reliant on a successful summer period, from June to August, and generate almost half (47%) of their annual turnover in this period.
Commenting on this, Susan Hammond, shop manager at Toby Tiger, based in Brighton, said: “After a slow July, we have seen footfall pick up since the start of school holidays as tourists come to the city despite the up and down weather, and we are hopeful that summer will still provide the bulk of our sales this year.”
Of the businesses surveyed, nearly three quarters (70%) say their area has become more popular with tourists since the pandemic and the same amount (70%) believe their business has benefitted from increased holiday-maker numbers.
This matches YouGov Travel Profiles research, which showed that over half of people in the UK planned to spend their leisure time at home in 2023.
An analysis of Three’s network data reflects this increased footfall in tourist hotspots like Brighton, where network usage was up 8% when compared to last year’s summer season.
Kyriakos Baxevanis, co-founder and managing director of Little Jasmine Therapies and Spa and Greek restaurant, Nostos, Brighton has noticed an upswing in visitor numbers.
Kyriakos said: “Summer is one of the busiest periods for our businesses as tourists flood to Brighton’s streets and create a buzz around the city.
“Despite the poor weather and pressure on everyone’s finances, customers have continued to come. Our spa business has seen a 10% increase in trade compared to last summer, showing holiday-makers’ enduring desire to treat themselves and providing a vital boost for our business.”
SMEs need unique support to relieve pressure
However, more than three in five (64%) of the coastal businesses surveyed say the summer months bring additional pressure on their business.
This includes recruitment of seasonal workers, which over three quarters (76%) of the coastal businesses surveyed rely on, but nearly two in five (38%) say finding seasonal workers is a struggle.
Connectivity, including phone data and internet connection, is another key challenge for coastal SMEs. Almost all (94%) of those surveyed said connectivity was important to the everyday running of their business for reasons including taking card payments while out serving customers, communicating with staff who are working in nearby pop-ups, or offering free Wi-Fi to their customers, which almost half (47%) do.
Meanwhile, 45% feel their business is losing money on fixed contracts, and over half (55%) wish they could scale their phone contracts to reflect seasonal demand.
This underlines the importance of understanding coastal businesses’ unique needs, as over two thirds (69%) say the way they operate is vastly different from SMEs based elsewhere.
Snehal Bhudia, director of propositions and marketing for Three Business, said: “Brits are known for their determination to enjoy their summer plans come rain or shine, which is lucky given the wash-out we saw in July.
“The summer months are such a crucial trading period for coastal businesses, as our data shows, particularly bumper bank holiday weekends like the ones we had in May and the upcoming August bank holiday.
“Flexible and affordable 5G connectivity goes a long way to enabling coastal businesses in making the most of this busy period.
Three Business, in partnership with Development Economics, looked at a number of seaside hotspots across the UK, finding that summer tourism is a huge contributor to economic output (GVA), number of jobs created both in terms of workplace jobs and full-time equivalents (FTE) and the number of SMEs supported within the regions.
Coastal and rural connectivity will be further boosted by Three’s merger with Vodafone UK which will see £11bn invested in UK connectivity over ten years creating one of Europe’s most advanced 5G standalone networks.