Business confidence among Cork businesses has plummeted with 80% of companies reporting they are not confident in the economy.
The first Cork Chamber Economic Trends Survey of 2020 captured the sentiment of the Cork business community during the uncertainty owing to the Covid-19 pandemic shock.
Just 19% of businesses in the region are now expressing confidence for the future, a significant reversal on the previous 79% from the last quarter.
In relation to employment, 35% of businesses expect a decrease in employee numbers over the next 12 months, while 16% expect an increase during the same period.
“Never in our lifetime have
we faced a shock of this magnitude affecting all sectors of our economy, and all aspects of our society,” Cork Chamber president Paula Cogan said.
“Of stark contrast with previous quarters, we saw a dramatic decrease in those reporting business confidence to 54% from a previous 93%, the first such dramatic shift of this scale since the survey commenced in 2009,” she said. “While not surprising, this is incredibly concerning. The survey which was circulated to businesses during the two-week period where nationally we moved from Covid-19 pandemic concern to high-level threat clearly reflects the rising unease accompanying the escalation of the threat level.”
The survey asked the thoughts of the Cork business community on their first quarter and the outlook for the year ahead on business confidence, the overall operating landscape, skills, threats and opportunities.
In addition, the survey, sponsored by Ulster Bank, measures progress on diversity and inclusion policies and supports in the workplace.
Reporting on turnover in the first quarter, 51% of businesses indicated a decrease, compared with 9% in our previous quarter. For
net profit, 47% indicated a decrease, at 9% in the previous quarter.
The survey results report that 71% of businesses expect a drop in turnover in the coming quarter, with 75% expecting a drop to net profit.
“We are indeed in uncharted territory. While we have a strong and resilient business community here in Cork, it is essential that businesses and the jobs they create are supported throughout this shock and beyond,” Ms Cogan said.
“The Government supports to date, and in particular, the Wage Subsidy Scheme are very much welcome and as a chamber we will continue to advocate on behalf of the business community and employees for the supports to keep businesses operational, to reopen their doors in the comings months, and to keep those that can work in work.”
Since 2018 the survey had consistently reported Brexit as the number one threat to business.