The business world is definitely on the move again – and we’ve got the receipts to prove it.
The global pandemic had far-reaching consequences for businesses in every industry sector, from finance to manufacturing. Restrictions on travel and mass gatherings meant the cancellation or postponement of industry conferences, and sales meetings. But there are signs that the recovery is well underway, courtesy of the latest anonymous data from Findity’s expense management platform.
The Impact Of Covid On Businesses
With face-to-face meetings and business travel put on the back-burner for over 18 months, organizations were not able to sustain their normal levels of productivity. In fact, a study co-authored by the Bank of England in 2020, revealed that most British businesses saw a fall in sales of approximately 30% in 2020 Q2.
Hardest hit were – you guessed it – highly consumer-facing non-essential services, including accommodation, recreational services, food, and non-food retail. And as a consequence of this downturn in sales, there were even gloomier projections for the months ahead, with many forecasting further downturns in future sales and employment growth.
In essence, by mid-2020, many British businesses, like many around the world, felt uncertain about the future and saw an increased risk of negative outcomes.
The Resurgence Of Business Activity In 2021 Q3
Fast-forward to October 2021. With the roll-out of vaccinations and the easing of social distancing restrictions across the globe, the wheels of the business machine started to roll once more.
Whilst accelerated innovations in cloud-based video conferencing and successes with hybrid-working have reduced the need and expectation for every business function to operate exclusively from the office, certain business activities rely on face-to-face contact with clients and customers.
In the words of accounting firm PWC: “Business travel is a necessary part of the way we work, as our ability to serve our clients largely depends on being able to visit their locations.”
So, post-pandemic, are we back to business as usual? Data compiled by Findity, gives some fascinating insight into the extent of the shift from mid-pandemic business activity to the state of play at the end of 2021.
Using anonymously collected data, we compared a range of expense claims between October 2020 and October 2021.
Generally speaking, expense claims saw in excess of 106% increase year-on-year, giving the strongest indication yet of a return to pre-pandemic levels of business activity.
This was also reflected in claims for entertainment, which saw an increase of almost 90%. Whilst this is somewhat expected given the wide-scale closure or restricted opening of restaurants and bars the previous year, it corroborates the case that businesses are enjoying a welcome return to normal, by investing in face-to-face meetings and client hosting.
This is also evident in expense claims for food benefits, which were up 367% on the previous October. This signals that salespeople and business executives are once again back on the road, or possibly more sustainable forms of transport, with fuel benefits also up 41%. Correspondingly, mileage claims also saw an increase of nearly 140%.
Perhaps the most encouraging figure from our research was the increase in foreign purchases, which suggests that business travel in general is recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Although not quite back to pre-pandemic levels, purchases abroad were up almost 74% on October 2021 levels.
Findity Data Comparison Between October 2020 and October 2021
|Expense type||Change in %|
|Subsistence allowance (per diem)||+ 197%|
|Abroad purchases||+ 74%|
|Food benefits||+ 367%|
Positive Future Projections
The good news from Findity’s findings is that business is most definitely back. As you can see, our data shows a clear year-on-year upward trend in business getting back on track. Sure, you might have to factor in multiple testing into your business travel plans. You might also have to abide by local requirements to provide evidence of double (or triple) vaccination. But the airways are open again, the hospitality sector is welcoming business, and road warriors are out there doing what they do best.
How are you keeping track of your expenses? Interested in the benefits of using Findity as the backbone of your expense management solution? Find out how we can help. Check out our partner solutions.