(15 April) The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Isme) has found that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are currently less optimistic about the prospects for the economy than they were over the last three months of 2013.
The general feeling of optimism noted in the Q4 2013 survey has been replaced by a much more circumspect assessment of current and future business growth prospects, according to Isme chief executive Mark Fielding.
“The Government and big business lobby PR machine has been in overdrive in recent months telling us all that the storm has passed. It is important that we temper our enthusiasm, manage our expectations and do not get complacent at this point as current signs of recovery are tentative, to say the least, and must be protected,” Fielding said.
Previous results of this quarterly survey had highlighted the uncertain situation of the retail sector and its struggle to survive, as a result of reduced consumer spending and increased costs. However, some improvements have been noted for retailers in this set of results, with sentiment about 'current sales' improving from -39% to -7% and 'current investment' rising from 17% to 40%. Retailers also reported a doubling in sentiment about 'business confidence' which rose from 13% to 27% in the quarter.
Fielding said, “It is of the utmost importance that the fragile revival in the economy is nurtured and that there is a continued acceptance that there is still a long way to go. Businesses are not recovering at the rate that reports and rhetoric would have us believe.”
Isme took the opportunity to publish the survey results to call on the Government to reduce state-controlled business costs to below the EU average and ensure there is an adequate supply of credit for SMEs in order to assist a revival in trade.
The survey was conducted in the last week of March, with 1,050 SME respondents.
© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Genna Patterson