Report March 2021

In a nutshell

We analyse Companies House “basic company data” up to the February 28th, 2021. New company registrations remain strong throughout the third lockdown. There is a change in the type of new businesses set up. There are particularly strong increases in online retail businesses, food and drink, sports equipment production and pet care.


  1. Business creation increased 8% from January 2021 to February 2021.
  2. Business creation increased 22.3% from February 2021 to February 2020.
  3. The largest number of company registrations occurs in ‘Retail sale via mail order houses or via Internet’ sector.
  4. Company registrations in ‘Accommodation and Food services’ remain supressed, but are buoyed by significant increases in food-related retail and wholesale companies.

Aggregate Analysis


The charts below show the daily company incorporations in the UK since January 2020. The lockdown periods correspond to our key dates timeline.

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  • Business creation increased 8% between January and February 2021.
  • 26,600 additional companies were registered in February 2021 relative to February 2019.
  • The median daily registrations were 56% higher in February 2021 than February 2019.
  • The median daily registrations during lockdown-III is 31% higher than in lockdown-I, but almost the same as lockdown-II.


Company registrations persistently exceed their 2019 and 2020 levels. The extensive business activity observed during the first 2 weeks of January 2021 slows down in February. This might be a signal of adjustment after Brexit. The ratio between 2021/2020 is lower than 2021/2019.

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Average company registrations in February 2021 are 31% higher than February 2020 and 67% higher than February 2019.

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Regional Analysis

Postcode Area

The map shows the percentage change in new registrations in February 2021 compared to February 2019.


The following graph aggregates business creation by country. We separate London from England. In February 2021, firm creation remains higher in all regions than it was in 2019. On average, Scotland experiences the fewest new daily registrations. London continues to dominate business registrations.

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Within London, the majority of business creation in February 2021 comes from Central and North London.

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Sectoral Analysis

SIC Sections

The graph illustrates company registrations in February 2021 relative to 2019 by industrial sector. It compares the percentage change in 2021 relative to 2019 for each week of the year. We use 4-digit SIC levels (ONS “Classes”) and group them into broader sectors (ONS “Sections”). We use the ONS classification. We show a selection of sectors that present notable increases.

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  • February 2021 has higher firm creation in most sectors than February 2019.
  • ‘Wholesale, and Retail Trade’, ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Real Estate’ sectors show the greatest increase in firm creation in February 2021.
  • Compared to February 2019, in February 2021 there is over a 300% increase in business creation for ‘Retail sale via mail order houses or via Internet’ and ‘Retail sale of sporting equipment in specialised stores’. This coincides with lockdown-III and store closures.
  • There are significant increases in food-related retail sales and wholesale sectors. There is over a 200% increase in the sectors of ‘Retail sale of bread, cakes, flour confectionery and sugar confectionery in specialised stores’ and ‘Wholesale of fruit and vegetables’ in February 2021 to February 2019.
  • There are lower registrations relative to February 2019 in ‘Taxi Operations’, ‘Tour Operator activities’ and ‘Packaging activities’.