UK Business Statistics 2024

Updated March 2024

Feb 2024  – Updated SME demographics. Added turnover data, business sentiment survey data 

April 2021 – Updated all data and remove business funding data to a separate report. 

Dec 2021 – Updated all previous data and charts. Added additional ONS survey data. 

Sept 2020 – Updated some ONS data

May 2020 – Second edition published

May 2019 – First edition published

UK Small Business Demographics

There are 5.6 millions private sector businesses operating in the UK (7.1% fewer than 2020).

Small businesses (0-49 employees) make up 99.2% of all businesses but only 67.6% of turnover.

SMEs (0-250 employees) account for 99.9% of all UK business and generated 52.5% of the total turnover.

Between 2020-2023 the number of non-employing businesses decreased by 10% whilst employing businesses increased by 2.3%.

The average turnover of all UK businesses at the start of 2024 was up 6.9% on 2022 (£806,381).

Number of UK businesses in the private sector and their associated employment, employees and turnover (start of 2024)

  Businesses Employees (thousands) Turnover (£ billions)
0 employees 4,110,145 901  330.8
1 – 9 employees 1,177,335 3,925 592.1
10 – 49 employees 222,785 4,293 669.6
50 – 250 employees 36,905 3,581 762.9
250 + employees 7,960 10,790 2,124.1
All businesses 5,555,130 23,490 4,479.6

UK Business Population Growth

The number of businesses in the UK rose in 2023 after 2 years of falls due to Covid-19.

The total number of businesses in the UK have fallen by 7.1% between the peak of of 6 million in 2020 to 5.6 million 2023.

Micro-businesses (1-9 employees) was the only category that saw a fall in numbers in 2023.

The number of large businesses (250+ employees) grew by 3.9%  which the fasted growth rate of all categories.

Average Small Business Turnover By Region

The average turnover of businesses in the UK increased to £806K in 2023 an. London’s average turnover per business was 50% higher at £1.2M.   

The total turnover of private sector businesses in 2023 was £4.48 trillion. 

The average turnover per employee was £162,751 for the UK as a whole. 

London has the highest average turnover per employee (£228K) which is about twice as high as businesses in the South West (£119K). 


Average Small Business Turnover By Business Size

Every region in the UK saw annual average turnover increase in 2023.

The average turnover of businesses in the UK increased 6.9% to £806,381 in 2023. 

The total turnover of private sector businesses in 2023 was £4.48 trillion.

There was a huge difference in turnover is between London and North East (£1.2 trillion vs £86 billion).

There was a negative correlation between a region’s turnover and its growth rate.

The South East (including London) has the highest average turnover but saw some of the lowest turnover growth.

Meanwhile, regions with relatively low average turnover (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, South West, North East, and Yorkshire) all saw 10%+ turnover growth since 2022.

Large business (over 250 employees) generated 46.4% of the private sector turnover in 2023 but made up only 0.14% of the total number of businesses. 

Businesses with no employees account for just 3.84% of all employees but generated 7.38% of all turnover.  

Average Small Business Turnover By Industry

Arts, Entertainment and Recreation saw their turnover drop another 6% in 2023.

Accommodation and food services saw the largest rise in turnover (26%) indicating a post-pandemic rebound.

Real estate (12.5%) and manufacturing (10.4%) saw significant growth in the number of businesses in 2023.

New Openings & Failure Rate Of Small Businesses

SEISS grants ended in Q3 2021, which was the start of eight consecutive quarters of net business closures.

During these 2 years 94,985 more businesses closed than were created. 

New business openings remained relatively low in Q3 2023 but there were nearly 10,000 more openings than closures in this period. 

Business Survival Rates

Just 10% of UK companies are older than 20 years. 

72% of companies are less than 10 years old.  

51.3% of companies in liquidation are less than 4 years old. 

The average age of incorporated UK companies is 8.6 years in 2023.

The average age of UK companies fell from 10.7 to 8.6 years from 2000 to 2022. The average age has remained consistently around the 8.5 years mark since 2014.

Business Sentiment

Accommodation and food services businesses are the most pessimistic about future turnover. 36.5% think turnover will fall.

18% of businesses believe turnover will increase, but this is skewed downwards by the number of small businesses, which is the most pessimistic group.

 27% of businesses with 10+ employees expect turnover to rise.

Economic uncertainty and the cost of labour are the biggest concerns for businesses at the start of 2024.

The cost of labour is now a major challenge for 22% of business surveyed compared to 14% in July 2023. 

The negative impact of inflation is beginning to decline with only 17% of businesses saying the cost of materials will impact turnover compared to 22% in July 2023.  

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