UK B2B Economic Outlook 2021
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“The tentative dates set by the government to reopen the economy over the coming months provide hope that businesses are over the worst that the pandemic has brought them financially.

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The UK B2B Economic Outlook report identifies consumer attitudes towards the impact of COVID-19, business health and market context in the UK. This market report covers the market size, market forecast, market segmentation and industry trends for the B2B Economic Outlook market in the UK. 

Current Market Landscape 

In contrast to the economic shocks, the overall economic impact of COVID-19 has been small with recovery almost immediate. Government intervention played a crucial role in achieving this, with growth in the present benefiting from the protection of businesses finances and personal incomes over the pandemic.

The end of Q1 2021 saw the beginning of restrictions being lifted, and after a delay, the removal of all mandatory COVID restrictions on 19 July 2020. This saw activity recover from Q1 2021 with GDP rising by 4.8% in the following quarter. Despite restrictions easing, GDP in July 2021 was still 2.1% below the level recorded in February 2020.

Future Market Trends in UK B2B Economic Outlook

For the three months to August 2021, average vacancies rose to 1,034,000 – up 269,000 compared to the previous quarter. This is the first time the figure broached the one million mark with vacancies 149,000 higher than between the January and March 2020 period before the coronavirus outbreak.

Demand for new employees rose across the employment size bands, although compared to the pre-COVID-19 period, the increase in vacancies from the largest businesses with 2,500 was notably below the average.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our UK Finance market research.

Covered in this report

Services: Advised sale, non-advised sales, mortgage, remortgage.

Brands: Countrywide, Mortgage Advice Bureau, MQube, London & Country. John Charcol, Intrinsic, Quilter Financial Planning, Old Mutual Welath, Old Mutual Plc, RIMIS Mortgage Network, The Openwork Partnership, Legal & General Mortgage Club, Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide, Santander, NatWest, Barclays, HSBC, Virgin Money Group, Coventry Building Society, Yorkshire Building Society, TSB, Halifax, Mojo Mortgages, Habito, Trussle, Moneybox, Metro Bank, Haysto.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Lewis Cone, a leading analyst in the B2B sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

The tentative dates set by the government to reopen the economy over the coming months provide hope that businesses are over the worst that the pandemic has brought them financially. However, it will still take time for things to return to pre-pandemic levels with businesses likely to still need support and guidance on how to best recover from the severe shock. Navigating through the post-Brexit environment will also present its own challenges, particularly for exporters.
Lewis Cone - Research AnalystLewis Cone
Senior B2B Analyst


Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • Economic overview
    • Business health
    • Special focus: B2B finance
    • What’s next?
  2. Economic Overview

    • Annual GDP growth falls by record low in 2020 due to COVID-enforced economic shutdowns
      • Figure 1: Annual GDP growth rate, 2016-20, (% change)
    • Bank rate set at a record low of 0.1%
      • Figure 2: Bank rate, by date of adjustment, 2008-20, (%)
    • CPI 12-month rate shows signs of rising but remains low…
      • Figure 3: Consumer Price Index, January 2020-21, (12-month rate, %)
    • …which has boosted real earnings growth
      • Figure 4: Real average weekly earnings, total pay, January-December 2020, (% monthly change year-on-year, seasonally adjusted)
  3. Business Health

    • A third of small businesses’ finances are ‘tight’ or ‘struggling/in trouble’ with many expecting to have to borrow to survive
      • Figure 5: Current finance situation of the business, June 2018 vs June 2019 vs June 2020, (% of respondents)
    • Business turnover grew between the start of 2019 and 2020 but is likely to have stalled in 2021…
      • Figure 6: UK business turnover, at the start of 2020, by business sector, (£m)
    • …as company insolvencies are likely to rise when government support schemes are removed
      • Figure 7: Underlying company insolvencies in England and Wales, Q3 2018-Q4 2020, (units, seasonally adjusted)
    • Private sector profitability falls and investment levels expected to decline
      • Figure 8: UK PNFCs net rate of return, Q3 2018-Q3 2020, (% return)
      • Figure 9: UK total business investment, Q3 2018-Q3 2020, (chained volume measures and not seasonally-adjusted, £bn)
  4. Special Focus: B2B Finance

    • Net lending significantly rose in 2020 driven by the COVID support schemes…
      • Figure 10: UK MFIs’ net loans to non-financial businesses, Q1 2019-Q4 2020, by size of business, (£m, not seasonally adjusted)
    • …although credit availability and demand remained unchanged at Q4 2020
      • Figure 11: Availability of corporate credit to PNFCs in the past three months, Q4 2018-Q4 2020, by business size, (net percentage balance)
      • Figure 12: Demand for corporate credit by PNFCs in the past three months, Q4 2018-Q4 2020, by business size, (net percentage balance)
    • Write-offs on loans to PNFCs fell in 2020
      • Figure 13: Write offs of loans to PNFCs from banks and building societies, Q3 2018-Q4 2020, (£m, not seasonally adjusted)
  5. What’s Next?

    • Business confidence bounces back from almost decade-low level
      • Figure 14: Business confidence index, Q4 2019-Q1 2021*, (index figure)
    • General consensus implies economic rebound from Q2 2021 and beyond
    • March 2021 Budget
    • Purchasing Managers’ Index Surveys
    • Four stage ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown offers hope for businesses
    • Businesses given extension to repay COVID support loans which should reduce financial burden
  6. Appendix – Abbreviations

    • Abbreviations

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our databooks* are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

*databooks not available with UK B2B Industry reports.

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Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted. Our reports are available to download in PDF and PPT formats.

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