Business Britain: Half a Million New Companies Set Up in 2020

Business Britain: Half a Million New Companies Set Up in 2020

Read Time: 3 Minutes


26 Jan 2021

2020 was a year like no other – with holidays, parties, and festivals cancelled, and many of us having our careers stalled too thanks to furlough, we all had plans put on hold in one way or another. 

However, by doing a bit of digging, we’ve discovered that 2020 was also a time for many people to reflect, make a fresh start, and take the leap into starting a new business. Our research found that nearly half a million (468,371) new businesses were registered in 2020, risking the economic uncertainty that Covid-19 brought to the UK.  

Retail Sales Soar 

Covid-19 transformed people’s buying habits in 2020, with a huge increase in online shopping and bulk buying. So, it’s no surprise that the most popular start-up sector in 2020 was retail sales (both online and via mail order houses) with 22,011 new registrations in this field. 

Other popular choices included management consultancy (16,869), the buying and selling of real estate (16,747) and freight transport via road (10,848). 


most popular start-up sectors include retail and management consultancy in 2020


London Comes Out on Top 

Even though 2020 was the year of the “London Exodus”, the capital still hasn’t lost it’s shine for new businesses owners, with over a quarter of all the businesses set up in 2020 registered in London (123,462). This was followed by Birmingham (11,185) and Manchester (9,684). 

Our previous research highlighted that, despite being hailed as the centre of business in the UK, London was revealed to be the worst UK city for those working from home, whilst Birmingham was found to be one of the best. Something to keep in mind for those embarking on a new business venture this year. 

London ranked as top city for start-ups in 2020


Summer Confidence 

We all felt a little bit more hopeful in the summer when it felt like the end of the pandemic was in sight. It seems new business owners also felt hopeful - June was the peak month for new business registrations in 2020, with 52,281 registrations during that month alone. January – before the pandemic even began – was the least busy with just 25,403 registrations.  

The highest number of registrations happened on 8th June, with 4,759 made in a single day. On this day, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that fatalities had fallen to their lowest level since the start of the first lockdown (21st March), which could have spurred on the increase. 

The 27th week of the year (29th June – 5th July) was the busiest week for new registrations - 18,189 were made that week alone, which again could be down to increased confidence that ‘normal’ life would be returning soon. 

Tuesday was the most popular day on which to register a business in 2020 (98,740), whilst Saturdays were the least busy for new registrations (8,076).  

June outlined as most popular month to start a business in 2020


Business Britain 2021

The tumultuous business environment of 2020 hasn’t put off potential future business owners either. On top of the new businesses opened in 2020, our research found that almost a fifth of UK adults (18%) have firm plans to start a business in 2021, with a further third (29%) considering it. 

Millennials (25-34-year-olds), were found to be most likely to want to launch a start-up in 2021 (32%), whilst almost forty per cent (39%) of 18-24-year-olds will potentially do so in 2021.  


If you’ve decided to take the leap and open a new business in 2021 and as things gradually return to some sense of normality, you may need to consider things like Coronavirus signage, handwashing posters, contactless only strut cards, and face visors, all available at instantprint.   

We can also help with the usual start-up requirements like business cards, business stationery and point of sale prints

Did you open a business in 2020? Do you have plans to start a new venture in 2021? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.


Data sources     
Survey of 1,000 UK adults 
Data correct as of 18/1/2021 
All data analysed from Companies House downloads were taken from the following website and based upon clearly defined answers relating to location and area of business 


About the Author

Hi, I’m Craig, instantprint’s Marketing Manager. I have a passion for discovering new and innovative ways small business owners can give their marketing a boost.