Retail market awareness grows but only a quarter know its only for businesses

Awareness of the business water market among micro, small and medium-sized businesses is growing but but more than half are still unaware of the new market. according to survey findings by the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

The online poll report was the first in a series aimed at tracking awareness of the retail water market among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).1

The survey found that 43% of SME respondents were aware they could switch their water retailer after the market opened in England on 1 April. But only 26% had a clear understanding that choice only related to retail services and included billing, meter reading and customer service.

Awareness among SMEs has risen considerably since CCWater ran a survey early in 2016 which showed than one in ten small businesses were aware of the then soon-to-be launched market.

Just over half of SMEs who took part in the latest survey said they were likely to explore their choices during the next six months.

Chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, Tony Smith (ppictured), said: “We’re encouraged to see awareness levels rising. However there is a lot more work to be done by all of us in the water sector to reach out to small businesses and inform them of their right to switch or negotiate a better deal.”

He said small businesses, in particular, would benefit from more and clearer communication on the market and its opportunities. That, he said would “ensure the market works for everyone, from the largest manufacturer or supermarket chain to the smallest florist or coffee shop.”

Two out of five SMEs who said they were unlikely to switch or seek a better water deal felt they did not use enough water to save any money. And 22% of businesses said they were happy with their current deal so they did not see the need to switch.

CC Water said its findings suggest retailers need to explain better how switching can benefit even the smallest business.

The watchdog plans to repeat the survey of SMEs in December.