BUSINESSES have welcomed signs of a recovery after the “massive” loss inflicted by the Covid criss last year.

The economy shrank at the start of 2021 but the damage was smaller than expected, with growth recovering in March.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 1.5 per cent between January and March this year, but March saw a 2.1 per cent month-on-month rise.

The economy is still 8.7 per cent smaller than before the pandemic.

Gillian Jones Williams, managing director of Emerge Development Consultancy, a Fareham business coaching firm, said: “In April 2020, after a quarter of a century running my own business, I nearly lost everything, so it’s a great feeling to still be in the game over a year since the pandemic struck.

“Best of all, the first 3-4 months of 2021 have shown some real promise for us. Even a barnstorming 2021 won’t make up for the massive financial loss we suffered last year but there are certainly signs that the business world is coming back to life.”

Southampton unemployment set to rise before Freeport arrives

Dishi Umfleet, co-owner Southampton coffee shop Docks Coffee, said: “The first three months of the year were slow, but consistent. Overall volume was down 65 per cent compared to the previous year but average spend was a bit higher than anticipated.

“Since we’ve reopened, it’s actually got slightly worse for us. The majority of our business was done online during the first three months of the year and the closer we got to everything reopening, the less people were spending.

The Southampton cafe which delivered breakfast in bed to survive coronavirus closure

“Now that we’ve been able to reopen for outside seating, online has basically stopped, and people just aren’t coming out for breakfast and coffee like they were before yet, so it’s been a slower than expected transition back into it.

“We anticipate that when the weather becomes more consistent, a bit warmer, and when we are able to fully open for inside seating as well, that we will start to get into a cycle like we’ve seen in previous summers.”

Good Growth Index puts Southampton third – but pandemic recovery may be slower

Kate Underwood, of Southampton-based Kate Underwood HR & Training, said: “As someone who works with companies across all sectors, for some, such as IT and telecoms, things have been non-stop since January but for others the first three months of the year have been terrible.

“Even if small businesses are having quiet periods, many haven’t been resting on their laurels and have been focused on employee training and reviewing processes so that when they are back they can hit the ground running. Understandably, the hospitality and events sector is only just starting to pick up and pubs, restaurants and bars are finally starting to exude a degree of optimism.

“From the May 17, going inside is going to make a massive difference. Let’s face it, our ‘summer’ is not very forgiving and, for now, that is discouraging people from going out to support local pubs and restaurants.”


t: 01202 411297

e: darren.slade@