Small business sentiment highlights two-speed recovery

Monday, 12 October 2020

  • Ongoing Covid-19 restrictions identified as biggest risk to small business
  • Survey respondents indicate their intention to invest

A gap between small firms doing well and those facing significant threats due to Covid-19 is emerging according to the latest ‘Small Business Sentiment Survey’ from the Small Firms Association (SFA). Over one third (35%) of SFA members feel that the business environment is improving with 33% of SFA members reporting a weakening, compared to 17% in Winter 2019.

Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director, said: “As we prepare for what could prove to be a very difficult winter, ongoing Covid-19 restrictions were identified as the biggest risk to small business in the coming months. Despite the difficulties facing them a resilient small business community is evident through the positive responses to key questions.

“The majority of respondents intend to keep wages at their current levels or to award pay rises where the business performance allows. However, a number reported having to decrease working hours, pause or cancel recruitment and let staff go temporarily, therefore, it is not surprising that 14% are considering lowering pay rates, compared to 1% in winter 2019.

“Nearly two out of three survey respondents (61%) indicated their intention to grow their businesses through investing in their brand, staff and Brexit proofing their organisations, in the coming months. Policymakers need to listen to this enterprising spirt and help entrepreneurs over the challenging months ahead.

“The majority of respondents (65%) identified Budget 2021 as very important to the outlook of their business. The July Stimulus plan provided a huge range of supports for businesses and Budget 2021 must continue to back Ireland’s small business community so they can work alongside health and business restrictions and prepare for a post-Brexit environment.”  

In conclusion, Spollen-Behrens stated “Small firms are the backbone of the Irish economy, supporting them helps create and sustain jobs throughout the country. Given the scale of challenges indigenous businesses are facing from coronavirus and a ‘no-trade deal’ Brexit, we hope the Minister for Finance recognises their importance in the upcoming Budget and introduces measures to allow small firms survive and thrive in the years ahead.“