A record 319,000 new businesses have emerged over the period, 13 per cent more than in the previous record year of 2015/16, and 21 per cent more than last year, business adviser and chartered accountant Hazlewoods has found.
It commented that furlough and the "great resignation” have driven more people to follow their dreams and start small businesses, with artisanal food production also proving popular.
Rebecca Copping, associate partner at Hazlewoods, said much was made of the rise in entrepreneurship coming out of the last credit crunch, but the pandemic has prompted a far greater rise. “Online retail and delivery have been major growth industries for a number of years, but the past 12 months have supercharged that,” she added.
Hazlewoods said that in the last year alone, the total number of retail businesses operating in the UK rose 15 per cent to 339,000, while the total number of delivery businesses jumped 43 per cent to 49,000.
Other industries that have seen substantial pandemic-driven increases in business-creation over the past year include drinks manufacturing (an increase of 6 per cent in the total population of businesses) and food manufacturing (a 4 per cent increase).
Ms Copping added: “Given the challenges many start-up businesses face, a lot of them may fall by the wayside over the next couple of years, but Covid-19 is likely to end up being a major factor in the creation of the next generation of household-name businesses.”