More than half those polled in a new survey of businesses across the State by Chambers Ireland are reporting a 60 per cent-plus fall in revenue as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions.
The survey also points to the cash shortages affecting SMEs and the challenges they face in reopening when restrictions are lifted.
The survey of 1,300 businesses conducted between April 24th and 28th shows that 85 per cent have scaled back activity to some extent and one-third have now shut completely.
Most expect some recovery in the second half of the year but a majority still expect revenues to be down more than 50 per cent this year.
The survey highlights the cash pressures facing business owners with fixed costs – apart from wages – of €2,000 a week.
For many, for example in retail, restocking is needed to reopen and this will cost €3,000 on average and a multiple of this in many cases.
Half of those surveyed said it would take two weeks to fully reopen and 25 per cent felt it would take over one month.
A minority in seasonal sectors, such as tourism, do not expect to reopen until 2021.
Physical-distancing measures for staff and customers are expected to cost an average of €2,000.
More than two-thirds are awaiting payment on invoices and many are looking at significant arrears developing.
Over half of respondents are now owed €40,000 or more and a significant number of the rest are owed at least €20,000.
"With the above in mind, the question for many business owners is soon going to become not whether they can keep going, but whether they can afford to reopen at all," according to Ian Talbot, chief executive of Chambers Ireland, which is the umbrella group for the chambers of commerce movement.
“This data verifies what we have been telling Government over the past few weeks – we need a clear plan for re-opening the economy,” he said. “ This includes advance notice of the dates that various sectors will re-open, a clear strategy on what sectors will re-open first, information on what protocol will need to be in place and whether support will be available to financially assist businesses to reopen.”
SMEs urgently needed support to help meet fixed costs and their reopening bills, he said.