November 24, 2020 @ 9:05 by Richard Dawson
A new report has found that more than half (54 per cent) of the North East’s microbusinesses would have ceased trading during lockdown were it not for digital technologies.
Published by Lloyds Bank and Be the Business, the ‘2020 Transformation With Tech’ report examines the influence of technology on business survival across the UK’s smallest firms during the coronavirus pandemic.
It has found that in the North East, more than a quarter (29 per cent) of microbusinesses created an online presence for the first time as they sought to keep trading through lockdown restrictions.
Of those already online, more than four in ten (44 per cent) said they’d increased their online trade since the beginning of the crisis.
The report also found that, on top of helping North East companies to keep trading, almost four in ten (39 per cent) reported cost savings as a result of digital adoption, while 55 per cent credited the internet for helping to simplify their business.
Elyn Corfield, Lloyds Banking Group ambassador for the North, said: “While it’s encouraging to see so many local firms embrace technology, we know the region lags behind when it comes to digital skills, an issue that needs to be urgently addressed if small businesses are to thrive.
“Getting businesses online today is fundamental and for many it’s become their lifeblood. Adapting their operating model and getting the skills they need to deliver an online service is an essential part of interacting with new and existing customers.
“Since last year, the Lloyds Bank Academy has already helped more than 65,000 people across the UK in charities and businesses develop their digital knowledge.
“This has enabled thousands of businesses to digitise their offering and continue operating during lockdown.
“We will continue to collaborate with stakeholders to overcome the digital divide seen in the North East, and level up the tech capabilities of the region as we work towards recovery.”