Quarter of consumer-facing businesses lose confidence and predict fall in turnover

New Ibec survey shows the ‘competitive challenges’ faced by businesses in the sector

A quarter of business owners here expect conditions to be poorer in the six months ahead, and a quarter expect their turnover to decline, a new survey from Ibec has found.

Business lobby group Ibec has launched its latest “experience economy” survey, which mainly covers restaurants, bars and accommodation providers, as well as in retail, tourism, the arts and other activities.

While more than 70 per cent of businesses are equally or more confident about their business than they were six months ago, one in four are less confident.

The survey includes 328 interviews, with 87 per cent of businesses located outside Dublin and almost all Irish-owned family businesses.


Sharon Higgins, executive director of membership and sectors in Ibec, said the survey highlights “competitive challenges faced by businesses within this sector”.

“The input costs due to the increases in energy, inflation cost of labour with the impending national minimum wage increases, on top of recent VAT increases along with many other input factors, will make it very difficult for these businesses in the coming months,” she said.

Oone-third of respondents plan to invest in training in the next 12 months to encourage staff development and aid retention.

She also noted the “worrying insight” that digitalisation is only a priority for 14 per cent of businesses. Of this cohort, less than half intend to introduce digitalisation-related projects in the coming one to two years.

Three-quarters of businesses agreed sustainability is a priority for their business, but just 17 per cent have plans to implement related initiatives in the next one to two years.

Meanwhile, one-third of respondents plan to invest in training in the next 12 months to encourage staff development and aid retention.

Among a number of recommendations, Ibec welcomed the €250 million SME support package announced in Budget 2024, but said there is a growing concern that it will not be enough to support businesses.

The lobby group also welcomed the Government’s consideration of ways to unlock the National Training Fund. Projected to reach a surplus of up to €1.5 billion by the end of this year, the fund is paid into via a levy on employers, and is subject to spending rules that currently limit Government’s use of the surplus.

Ellen O'Regan

Ellen O’Regan

Ellen O’Regan is an Irish Times journalist.