BUSINESS costs continued to rise during 2013, with energy costs still the most commonly seen increase among small businesses, according to research released late last year by the Forum for Private Business.
The organisation’s Cost of Doing Business survey, carried out among its members, shows firms were still facing an uphill battle to make ends meet, despite positive signs of an economic recovery.
The results showed 94% of businesses had seen an overall increase in their business costs. 87% of businesses reported an increase in energy costs, 83% in transport costs, 78% a rise in marketing costs, and 69% a rise in the cost of stock.
The report also said 41% of small business owners had been being unable to pass any rising costs onto customers. Just 2% were able to pass on costs in full.
Alexander Jackman, the Forum’s head of policy, said: “The major reasons for increases in prices are predominantly down to transport and energy prices rising, coupled with the continued weakness of sterling for importers. The economic outlook may be better but costs still remain an issue for our members.”
While annual headline inflation had continued to fall – from 3% to 2.7% – the research found that prices had continued to rise faster for micro, small and medium-sized employers at 6%, although that was less than the 6.7% figure reported by the Forum in the preceding year.
There was also a significantly lower proportion of businesses concerned by credit restrictions in late 2013 compared with the year before, and a higher proportion said credit restrictions were having little impact on their operations.