Latest UK Export Data Suggests Revenue Challenges for SMEs: Monthly UK Exporter Monitor, May 2022

Monthly UK Exporter Monitor, May 2022

The number of UK exporters increased slightly in May 2022 according to the latest Exporter Monitor by Coriolis Technologies and The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT). However, this overall growth masks a revenue crisis for micro, small and medium-sized exporters.

Our data suggest that in May 2022 the number of companies exporting from the UK increased by 1%, employment in UK exporting firms by 4% and revenues over all by 3%. However, this increase in revenues was accounted for entirely by higher revenues for the largest businesses. It obscures the fact that micro, small and medium-sized companies all showed drops in revenues compared to last month, of 4%, 6% and 1% respectively.

Last month’s drop in exporter employment and revenues appears, as predicted, to have transferred into the supply chains where smaller and more vulnerable businesses are more prevalent. As the cost-of-living rises, and as exporter revenues decline amongst the nation’s smallest businesses, this will inevitably impact a number of small businesses and how many people they employ. The outlook suggests that this increase will soften into June, given the weaker revenues and an overall pattern over the course of the last year of declining exporter numbers, exporter revenues and exporter employment, it suggests that the full effects of the pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine crisis and Brexit still have to work through the UK trade system.

Coriolis Technologies Chief Executive, Dr Rebecca Harding said:

“The data suggest that the long-term viability of UK-originating supply chains is under threat from a decline in revenues amongst smaller exporting businesses. Compared to June 2021 revenues are on average nearly 5% lower with smaller businesses particularly severely hit. The consequences of this for jobs and for the future of UK PLC cannot be understated and the fragility of the UK export sector needs to be acknowledged if we are to find practical solutions and restore trade’s role in contributing to GDP.”


Institute of Export & International Trade director general, Mr. Marco Forgione said:  

“This ongoing trend is concerning. It is clear that a lot of work needs to be done to help smaller businesses through this turbulent trading period. The increased cost of energy, fuel and disruption to the global supply chain is having a much greater impact on UK MSMEs. These revenue hits will have significant long-term impacts as they reduce investment, innovation and development. It is important that smaller companies are offered the training and guidance to navigate through this period and we stand ready to support them through this.

This decline has a cumulative impact because while UK businesses withdraw from markets and fail to invest, their overseas competitors are taking advantage. UK exporters are a vital part of our economy and if the government wants to meet its ambitious export target of £1tn more must be done to create a fertile environment where trade can flourish.”

Download the full Report and Press Release


  • Method:
    Coriolis Technologies has matched UK exporter data from Customs and Excise sources with Bill of Lading data and large-scale publicly available datasets. UK HMRC data covers the names and addresses of all UK exporters who send products through customs and excise. These names were matched to Bureau van Djik FAME data to establsh turnover and employment levels. To establish the numbers of service sector companies with export revenues, Coriolis took those businesses in the FAME database with international turnover to collect sector and employment as well as turnover information. The sector distribution of exporters in goods and services was then applied to the sample of companies which did not have turnover or employment data to scale the whole dataset to establish counts, turnover and employment for the UK as a whole. Companies were taken from an HMRC sample going back to 2017 and any duplicates with international turnover data from FAME data removed.
  • The forecasts are based on a statistical “General Additive” modelling framework which decomposes each time series (each exporter count group) into a couple of main components:
    • trend
    • seasonality – effect of calendar month or season
    • changepoints – moments where the trend shifts
    • special calendar events
  • These effects are smoothed, added together and extrapolated into the future to create forecasted values for each exporter group separately. The model is optimized to explain as much variability in the time series with as simple model as possible.
  • The estimated forecasting error is within 1.7% of the actual value, back-tested on the actual forecasting performance over the past 2 years for the aggregate forecasts and for the forecasts by size and UK nation

MultiLateral Insight