One in three business owners have said that they have seen lower customer numbers, while a quarter are making fewer sales ahead of the planned June 21 economic reopening.

According to new research from business lender Iwoca, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have lost business in order to maintain Covid-secure workplaces.

A quarter of SMEs said that they lose more than an hour a day making their workplaces Covid-secure, and 24 per cent have spent more than £1,000 on Covid safety measures.

Meanwhile, almost half (45 per cent) of female business owners are worried that they won’t be able to afford to pay themselves a salary, compared with 37 per cent of male business owners.

41 per cent of female business owners and 29 per cent of male business owners are concerned that they may struggle to pay back their Covid loans.

However, Iwoca’s research also found that 30 per cent of SMEs are now trading more than they were pre-crisis – up from 11 per cent in December 2020.

“As restrictions are being eased, many small business owners are chomping at the bit to recover their full potential,” said Seema Desai, chief operating officer of Iwoca.

“It’s encouraging to see that a third are trading more than they were in pre-Covid times, and hopefully we’ll see even more businesses recover once restrictions can be fully lifted around the UK.”