SFA Q4 2013 Business Sentiment Survey

Monday, 13 January 2014

  • Small business sentiment continues to improve
  • 4 out of 10 small firms rate their business as “good” or “very good” over next three months


“The survey indicates that the economy has stabilised, the challenge is now when the economy will commence to grow in a meaningful way. The business performance is encouraging and companies are looking to the future with an increasing sense of optimism Avine McNally, Acting Director, Small Firms Association .

The Small Firms Association (SFA) has released the findings of its Q4 Business Sentiment Survey. Commenting on the figures, SFA Acting Director, Avine McNally said, “business confidence levels have shown further improvement through the final quarter of 2013, this is the strongest set of sentiment data we have seen since in a few years.”

“The survey indicates that the economy has stabilised, the challenge is now when the economy will commence to grow in a meaningful way. However, the business performance is encouraging and companies are looking to the future with an increasing sense of optimism.”

Overall Business Environment
The results show that 35% of respondent companies rate the overall business environment to be either ‘very good’ or ‘good’ an 11% increase on Q2 2013. 48% rate their own business as “very good” or “good” (6% increase on Q2 2013).

29% of respondents were more confident about their business than in Q3 2013 and the outlook over the first three months of 2014 is also positive with one in four small firms expecting their business to be ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

The business activity indicators also show expected changes in the first three months of 2014 are more positive than previously experienced.
  • Over a third of small firms (31%) expect order books to improve.
  • Domestic market sales are expected to increase for 26% of small firms while 39% of those companies who export expect to see increase in sales.
  • Over three in ten companies expect an increase in their customer base (33%).

McNally stated that while the weak performance of the wider European economy remains a concern. The biggest challenge for small firms, especially those trading on the domestic market, is the fragility of the domestic economy and confidence among consumers. “While there is an improvement in confidence among small businesses it remains fragile, this confidence needs to improve further as then owner managers are more likely to invest and make purchase decisions.”

“Government needs to ensure that they assist small firms to build on the improving prospects by creating a business environment conducive to small business survival and growth.

“Policies need to be put in place by government that will assist this vital sector drive growth in the wider economy,” added McNally.

The SFA put forward the following point plan:

1. Making SMEs and job creation the leit motif of government policy:
2. Increase credit availability to SMEs and ensure the current funding initiatives are functioning effectively:
3. Improved access for SMEs to public procurement contracts.
4. Reduce business costs.

For further information, please contact: Avine McNally, Acting Director, Small Firms Association. Telephone: 01 605 1633 (work) 087 645 0205 (mobile) Twitter: @SFA_Irl
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