The North is the UK’s most positive region for SMEs, according to a new survey.

Yorkshire and the Humber is the most optimistic place in the UK to be a small business owner with a remarkable 100% of the businesses region said they were feeling fairly, or very, positive about the future. The regions that had the highest rates of positive feeling about the future after that were North West England (86%) and North East England (85%).

The findings came in a report from Ecommerce provider, Opayo - the new name for Sage Pay - and Discover Global Network.

Almost two-thirds of the UK’s SMEs (61%) remained positive at the start of 2021 despite the continued pandemic, and almost three quarters (74%) are now optimistic about future growth.

However, as the UK economy continues to recover from the pandemic, only half (49%) of UK small businesses believe that they are set-up to cope with a significant increase in sales and pent-up consumer demand after retail, hospitality and leisure outlets reopened in April. According to The FSB, as many as 59% of small businesses had to close their premises during the pandemic.

Small businesses operating in some of the most affected industries by the pandemic, such as hotels, gym and hairdressers and beauty showed the highest levels of business optimism for future growth, despite several national and local lockdowns. Hotels, B&Bs and inns, for example, reported a 61% boost in business confidence, while hairdressers and beauty businesses saw confidence rise by 33% as they geared up to reopen to the public in April and May.

Opayo’s MD Sean Wilson said: “Our research highlights that the UK’s small businesses have been incredibly resilient over the past year, given the continued uncertainty around the pandemic. It is great to see that business confidence is strong as the UK economy continues to reopen as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Chris Winter, Vice President of Global Acceptance, EMEA at Discover ® Global Network, which processes millions of cardholder transactions each day, said: “The research has helped us understand how we can support merchants across the UK to grow far beyond their local communities, especially with the rise of online cross border spend in the UK.

“This will help merchants meet the changing shopping habits of local and international customers across physical and digital retail stores.”