Small business optimistic as restrictions ease
Confidence among small business owners has notably improved, according to the latest ‘Small Business Sentiment Survey’ report from the Small Firms Association (SFA), published today. Over half (55%) of SFA members feel that the business environment is improving, compared with 35% in summer 2020.
Sven Spollen-Behrens, SFA Director, said: “Despite the challenges faced by our small business community in early 2021, business owners and entrepreneurs are confident for summer 2021 and the second half of the year.
“Domestic economic growth continues to be identified as the primary driver of business opportunities in 2021. 70% of respondents plan to invest in their business this year with business growth, IT and brand development identified as areas of priority.
“COVID-19 restrictions in the first half of the year led to decreased working hours, the pausing or cancelling of planned recruitment and a temporary reduction in staff numbers. Despite these challenges, survey respondents indicated that performance of the business and the individual permitting, they expect wage rates to increase over the coming months.
“As we restart our economy and move towards recovery it is vital that we bring down unemployment and restore working hours. Therefore, government policy goals must avoid increasing labour costs and additional regulatory burden. Business owners indicated that the introduction of a Statutory Sick Pay scheme should be delayed allowing small firms to restart after the crisis.”
In conclusion, Spollen-Behrens stated “The first-half of 2021 was the most difficult for the Irish economy and society since the onset of COVID-19. Due to the confidence in the vaccination programme and the pace of roll out and the action we have all taken to stop the rise of COVID-19 within our communities the return to normal trading in the second half of 2021 is, now, within our grasp. The SFA will remain focused on working and supporting members, as they begin to welcome back customers and return to the office.”