Irish SMEs highlight rising prices as chief concern in wake of Brexit

CSO survey also finds a fifth of businesses here expect to experience Brexit hit

UK cabinet minister Lord Frost (right ) chairs the first meeting of the partnership council followed by the eighth meeting of the withdrawal agreement joint committee with his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic (left), Richard Szostak, principal adviser (second left) and paymaster general Penny Mordaunt on Wednesday in London. Photograph: Eddie Mulholland/WPA Pool/Getty Images

More than 40 per cent of Irish businesses have cited rising prices in the wake of Brexit as a major concern, while a fifth fear they will experience a decline in their business as a result of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The findings were contained in a survey assessing the impact of Brexit on SMEs here carried out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

It found that four in 10 companies expected the UK’s EU exit to have a negative impact on business in 2021.

The study, conducted among 8,000 businesses in the first quarter of this year, also assessed what steps businesses had taken to mitigate Covid-19 and Brexit uncertainty. Some 39 per cent said they had taken no steps.


Among those that did, the most common were pausing/cancelling investment (13 per cent), implementing a pay freeze (13 per cent), increasing digitisation (12 per cent) and reducing their work force (11 per cent).


The headline finding was that more than four in 10 SMEs (42 per cent) highlighted an increase in prices as their biggest Brexit concern for 2021. Almost two-thirds of respondents in the construction sector (65 per cent) expressed concern about rising prices.

In its latest quarterly report on the housing market, the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland this week warned that the rising cost of building materials due to the pandemic and Brexit was likely to aggravate affordability issues in the property market.

The CSO’s survey found that 38 per cent of respondents in the services sector said difficulty in transporting goods to/from the UK was their biggest concern, followed by an increase in prices (36 per cent) and a decline in business from UK customers (26 per cent).

Almost half (47 per cent) of respondents in industry reported that transporting goods to/from the UK is their biggest concern.

The CSO’s survey also noted that one in five respondents (21 per cent) highlighted decline in business from UK as their biggest concern for 2021.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times