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Business Confidence Drops and Brexit fears increase

The results of the ISME Quarterly Business Trends Survey for Q3’18 have been released today with 9 out of 12 confidence indicators showing declines, compared to 7 out of 12 in the previous quarter. While employment trends are as expected, Business Confidence continues to decline, dropping by a further 20% in this quarter. Confidence for SMEs has not been this low since 2011, as Brexit remains the biggest concern for SMEs followed by Economic Uncertainty.

The Trends report also captures data on employee pay, broadband services and business and motor insurance costs in the SME sector. The report highlights the continued rise in insurance premiums and the latest pay expectations in the SME sector.

Commenting on the results, ISME CEO, Neil McDonnell said:

 “Today’s results show some worrying trends for SMEs. Business Confidence and Profitability Expectations are down 20% and 9% respectively on last quarter, while Exports show a nominal increase of 1%. The report highlights the need for government to invest more in our indigenous economy and put SMEs first. Sadly Budget 2019 was a missed opportunity as it failed to address many of the issues facing SMEs in Ireland.”


Our report also shows the negative impact of Brexit, inefficient broadband services and the continued rising costs of insurance premiums. We reiterate the need for the Central Bank to publish insurance industry statistics equivalent to its old ‘Blue Book’. “

This survey was conducted in the second last week of September, with 787 SME respondents, 49% of whom employ less than 10; 36% employ between 11 and 49; and the remaining 15% employ between 50 and 250. Geographically, 28% are from Dublin; 71% are spread across the rest of the country; and 2% have multiple sites.