A quarter of firms expect revenues to plummet by 90% in the next three months, while a fifth have already laid off their entire staff, according to a report by Chambers Ireland.
The national body for chambers of commerce around the country gauged the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the past week, with stark findings among the 1,100 business surveyed.
Some 84% of businesses expect revenue to decline by in excess of 25% in the next three months, up from 73% in late March.
Approximately 25% of businesses expect their revenue to decline by more than 90% over the next three months/
More than 40% of businesses have closed entirely, and just under a third of businesses have closed the public facing offices and are now working from home. Of those that have closed, most expect to be closed for 12 weeks, the survey found.
Some 47% of businesses have laid off staff, with more than half of those laying off almost a third of staff. A fifth of all businesses have laid off their entire staff, the results showed.
Three-quarters of business owners believe that the two-month deferral of commercial rates payments will have little to no impact on their business prospects.
Most believe that it would need to be a six-month holiday to be of use, with a significant minority believing that the extension would need to be for 12 months.
In a near unanimous opinion, businesses believe that there will be a need for a post-pandemic economic stimulus package; a need for liquidity grants to businesses; and that the measures already introduced will need their timelines extended.
Chambers Ireland chief executive Ian Talbot said the results showed the gravity of the situation, particularly for many smaller businesses.
“For those who have closed their operations entirely, most expect to remain closed for at least 12 weeks. Unfortunately, as we’re seeing in other countries, the period of closure is likely to be longer for some businesses.
“Should this come to pass, an honest dialogue with the Government will be required regarding how the staff and employers who have lost their living will be supported.
“We need action on a scale we have not seen before. The unprecedented nature of Covid-19 must be met with an unprecedented response. Measures already introduced, while critical in the first response to support business, will need to evolve in scale and scope.”
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund is predicting the downturn will trigger the worst fallout since the 1930s Great Depression, with only a partial recovery seen in 2021.
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva sad the crisis would hit emerging markets and developing countries hardest of all, which would then need hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid.
“Just three months ago, we expected positive per capita income growth in over 160 of our member countries in 2020,” she said on Thursday in remarks prepared for delivery ahead of next week’s IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings.
“Today, that number has been turned on its head: we now project that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.”
If the pandemic faded in the second half of the year, the IMF expected a partial recovery in 2021, Georgieva said, but she warned the situation could also get worse.