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50% drop in trade for businesses that re-opened under Phase One, survey finds

The Chambers Ireland survey said the worst-hit industries included tourism, hospitality, retail, entertainment and education.

File photo. Pictured are crew members aboard the LE Niamh in Dublin, washing the ship.
File photo. Pictured are crew members aboard the LE Niamh in Dublin, washing the ship.
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

OVER THE NEXT three months, a quarter of businesses expect to have earnings that are 70% below their usual level, according to a survey published today by Chambers Ireland.

Completed before Ireland entered Phase Two of re-opening, between 28 May and 2 June, the survey had 1,320 responses.

For those that re-opened during Phase One, “extremely low” business levels were reported with Chambers finding that these businesses “are typically experiencing less than half of their usual levels of business activity for this time of year”. 

Businesses that re-opened in Phase One included hardware stores, builders merchants, farmers markets, garden centres, car retailers and businesses that offer office products and services. 

The median point of a business’ expected revenue over the next three month is about 50% of what it normally would be, according to the survey. 

It reported the worst-hit industries included tourism, hospitality, retail, entertainment and education. 

Businesses located in the west, the south-east and border counties are reporting the highest expected declines in revenues over the coming months. 

Invoice arrears have also increased relative to last year, with 58% of firms saying they have invoices in arrears. In the midlands, up to 70% of firms say that have invoice arrears.

Chambers Ireland chief executive Ian Talbot said it’s clear from the survey that small businesses have been the worst hit.

“Self-employed and sole traders have closed entirely, invoice arrears are increasing, contributing to growing debt levels – and all of these problems are amplified for small businesses,” he said. 

If jobs are to be saved, if businesses are to stay trading, we need to see certainty and clarity on the longer-term economic supports so that businesses can plan for their future. These supports need to address liquidity and cover overheads. Otherwise debt, which is mounting for many businesses, will sink them.

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Talbot said his organisation had compared the situation to a “mini-economic ice-age” at the onset of the crisis and that “unfreezing” the economy would need far-reaching supports for businesses. 

He warned of a “decade of stunted growth” if the next government doesn’t address both short-term supports and the bigger picture.

“Now is the time for these interventions. At minimum, this will need to include a year-long waiver for impacted business from Commercial Rates, additional funding for Local Authorities, expanded grant aid, and a targeted extension of the Wage Subsidy Scheme for the greater part of the remainder of 2020,” Talbot added. 

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Sean Murray

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