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Latest All-Island Business Monitor results more optimistic than expected

26 Feb 2023
  • Most businesses are either stable (48 percent) or growing (43 percent.)
  • 27 percent are experiencing strong growth and 34 percent are expecting sales to increase in the next 6 months.
  • Over 70 percent of businesses across the island have passed on price increases to customers.
  • Growth rates in Northern Ireland and Ireland are similar in Q4 2022.

Firms across the island are reporting a better than expected close to 2022. InterTradeIreland’s latest All-island Business Monitor (Q4 2022) reveals that despite high inflation, firms finished the year on a more positive note than expected.

Martin Robinson, InterTradeIreland’s Director of Strategy says, “This is the largest survey of its type and last quarter we saw a positive increase across all the key indicators. However, we would need to see the results for the next quarter or two to get a better sense of whether this may be the start of a sustained uplift. We must bear in mind that the findings are set against a very complicated geopolitical backdrop at present.”

91 per cent of businesses surveyed say they are in stable or growth mode and this picture is remarkably similar in both Northern Ireland (91 per cent) and Ireland (90 per cent). Businesses in both jurisdictions that export are experiencing the highest rate of expansion, with half reporting growth. Cross-border traders continue to have higher profit margins than their non-exporting peers. A third of businesses that trade cross-border on the island report gains fall in the higher profit brackets of 10 percent and over, compared to just over a quarter of non-exporters.

Martin Robinson comments, “Across all sectors, there’s a real sense of businesses just putting their head down and getting on with it, and it’s important to note that despite the cost challenges most are still profitable. Manufacturing is more upbeat- after recent price shocks and there could be a sense that most of the bad news is already priced in. We were expecting to see that hospitality would have a seasonal boost in the last quarter of the year, although fewer businesses in this sector are in growth mode relative to other sectors.

Not surprisingly, high input costs of both energy (87 percent) and other overheads (76 percent) remain the dominant issues for business across the island, with 72 percent reporting they have now passed on price increases to customers. Difficulty accessing skills remains an issue for one in four, while 82 percent of firms say they have largely adapted or remain unaffected by trading conditions post-Brexit.

Martin concludes, “We see the persistent challenges that businesses contend with, and at InterTradeIreland we are very focused on working with firms to help them find solutions. Our research shows that trading across the border can be a significant step for SMEs to help them grow their business. The latest cross-border trade figures from the CSO show that firms in Northern Ireland enjoyed almost £5 billion in goods sales to Ireland during 2022, while the annual exports of Irish businesses to Northern Ireland are now hitting €4.9 billion. I would encourage any business that needs advice on how to take that first step in the cross-border market to contact InterTradeIreland.”

“We also collaborate with a wide-range of partners across the island and have access to a wealth of knowledge and experience that small firms can tap into via our networks."

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