Economic uncertainty among Irish SMEs at its lowest level for 7 years

7th January 2014 | News

Confidence among Ireland’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) community is on the rise with uncertainty regarding the national economy at its lowest level in almost seven years, according to a new ISME study.
 
The latest quarterly SME Business Trends survey, released by the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME), found improvements in 11 out of 12 economic indicators. The survey was conducted in the second week of December 2013, with 1,162 SMEs taking part.
 
Mark Fielding, chief executive of the ISME, believes Ireland’s small firms are cautiously optimistic about the coming months as the country comes out the other side of the bailout era.
 
Overall business confidence increased considerably from -5 per cent to +42 per cent, with business expectations having gone from zero to +52 per cent in the space of a year.
 
However Fielding said that while uncertainty about the economic environment had fallen, it still remains a major talking point for many business owners.
 
"Owner-managers are still concerned about economic uncertainty and the upturn is not being felt equally across all sectors," said Fielding.
 
"Retailers, in particular, are not benefitting from the reported increase in domestic demand and current sales have dropped.
 
"Unfortunately, this precarious situation means that jobs will be lost in retail due to government inaction."
 
This report follows another from the Ireland France Chamber of Commerce (IFCC) which found the majority of its members reported an encouraging increase in business activity over the last quarter.
 
Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) said activity levels were higher, while 65 per cent said revenues had increased in the past three months compared to the previous quarter.
 
Jim Rice, president of IFCC, believed the findings to be "uplifting".
 
"Added to the increase in business activity, it is very assuring to see positive forecasts for the coming months. As a bilateral trade organisation, it is encouraging that nearly a quarter of respondents have experienced an increase in incoming business from abroad," added Rice.