A New Generation of UK Retailers Lead the Way: 93% Say Sustainability is a Focus for the Year Ahead


Published November 12, 2021
  1. 93% of UK retailers say sustainability is either a ‘focus’ or ‘a big focus’ for the next 12 months
  2. This is despite concerns over NI rises, wfh-related loss of footfall, and Brexit presenting the ‘biggest challenge’ to 42% of retailers currently
  3. The most popular method of becoming more sustainable was to stock ‘more eco-friendly/sustainable products’, second to ‘stocking more local products’
  4. 43% of respondents had been in business for less than a year, and 93% have five full-time employees or fewer

London, UK — 1st November 2021: Creoate, the UK-based B2B marketplace, has surveyed 565 UK-based retailers to assess their stance on current issues, challenges and priorities. A full write-up can be found here.


It’s clear small retail businesses still have a lot to contend with. For those who had experienced business life pre-pandemic, 48% said they were still feeling the negative impact in their business today. 41% of retailers with brick and mortar stores said they experience less footfall now as a result of increased working from home, and hybrid working patterns.

Even more of an issue was Brexit. In fact, 42% of surveyed businesses said this was their ‘biggest current challenge’. 37% are also ‘somewhat concerned’ about the future raise to National Insurance (the most popular response).

In a business environment that’s challenging in so many ways, it’s all the more impressive that 93% of small UK retailers are making sustainability a focus for the next 12 months. 59% of businesses went as far as to say it’s a ‘big focus’ for the year ahead.

When we asked how retailers are making their business more sustainable, the most popular response was by ‘choosing products which are more sustainable/eco-friendly’ (84%), followed by ‘stocking more local products’ (68%), and ‘reviewing [their] own packaging/bags’ (64%).

Aside from the four sustainability measures we put forward, the retailers who selected ‘other’ (4%) had some interesting suggestions for what they’re doing to make their business more sustainable; from considering how they travel to work, to planting a tree for every purchase.

Whatever form it takes, it’s clear that a small business-heavy economy is a positive thing for our planet. When asked why sustainability was a focus for these businesses, the answers were touching, and often conveyed a huge amount of passion and commitment, with sustainability at the very heart of their mission:

  1. ‘Sustainability is at the core of my business. We are the only children’s store in the UK to be Planet Mark certified, meaning we report our carbon data year on year with a commitment to reduce our impact.’
  2. ‘It’s the most important thing to me and my business.’
  3. ‘Making sustainably-made products more accessible is why I started my store.’

While larger retailers become more sustainable because of external pressure, for newer, smaller businesses, it seems sustainability is often baked in from day one. 

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