Over half of companies across the island of Ireland have seen their business drop, due to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy.
23 per cent of firms say their staff levels have fallen, with a similar figure last being seen during the recession in 2009.
This comes as one of the findings of InterTradeIreland’s Business Monitor for the second quarter of this year, who say the “dizzying speed of contraction is unprecedented.”
Aidan Gough of the group says the impact of Covid-19 on the economy is startling: “It really has been quite dramatic.
“It shows that prior to Covid, we’ve seen that only seven per cent of businesses across the island were struggling and declining. That went in the space of one quarter to 53 per cent.
“On the other extreme, 45 per cent of businesses prior to Covid said they were growing or growing rapidly – that has declined to just 15 per cent.”
Mr Gough says the pandemic has revealed a digital divide between larger firms and smaller businesses who need more training in digital skills: “There is a recognition from policymakers that SMEs need to be digitally enabled to meet the demands of this new environment.”
“We are responding to those demands, and we have a very long list of applications for that service, and the businesses that have availed of it are seeing the benefits from it.”
The report additionally found that Brexit remains a challenge, with just 30 per cent of cross-Border traders having made a plan to deal with its impacts.
Of those that have made preparations, over a third say they will now need to revise their plans in light of Covid-19.