5th May 2020

COVID-19 Business Survey detailed results

Results of COVID-19 Business Survey conducted by Ennis Chamber in association with Clare FM


Survey conducted among businesses operating in the SME sector in Co Clare.


Breakdown of responses by Business Sector

Hospitality (hotels bars cafes restaurants):     27 %

Tourism and attractions :       8%

Retail :     42%

Professional services:  12%

Manufacturing:   2%

Other  :    9%


Location of businesses surveyed:

Ennis, Kilrush, Shannon, Ennistymon, Lisdoonvarna, Doolin, Liscannor, Lahinch, Ballyvaughan, Kilfenora, Carron, Kilkishen, Tulla, Mountshannon, Scarriff, Killaloe, Tuamgraney, Newmarket-on-Fergus. Bunratty, Clarecastle and Kilmaley


Role of respondents

Owner:                 93%

Manager:            13%


Number of employees?

1 – 10 employees:     39.5%

10 – 20 employees: 18.5%

20 – 40 employees: 17%

40 – 50 employees: 14%

50 – 100 employees: 7.5%

Businesses employing in excess of 100: 3.5%


Is your business currently trading?

Yes                        19.32%

No                         80.68%


If not trading, why not?

By Order:             84%

Necessity:           16%


What has been the impact of Covid-19 on your business to date?

Cash flow:                    93 %

Jobs:                              62%

Mental Wellbeing:     43%

Other:                            41%

Selection of responses to ‘other’

Those still in business cited:

–          Difficulty with supply and increase in supply price

–          Disruption to supply chain

–          The worry of keeping staff safe

–          Keeping customers safe

Those not currently trading said:

–          The stress and upset of having to let staff go

–          The difficulty of coping with uncertainty

–          The shock of business just stopping overnight

*Many in the tourism and hospitality sector commented on the extent of the damage done to their business:

–           Knowing our business is gone for this year and the earlier part of next year for sure

–           There is no chance American tourists will come back in 2020. Total wipe-out, we just can’t survive on domestic tourism alone – the question for us is whether it’s worth opening our doors at all until next year and if that’s what we do how do we pay our overheads?

–          Our landlord won’t listen and won’t negotiate. Either he doesn’t understand or is pretending not to understand the cash implications of our business being shut. We are afraid we will lose our business for this reason.


For businesses not currently trading

Have you laid off employees?                                   70%

Are staff on the Temporary wage Subsidy?           52%

Have you kept employees on the books?               33%


·         Typically, businesses with more than 3 employees report a mixture of the above


If currently availing of the temporary wage subsidy scheme do you want the scheme to continue after reopening?

Yes                         94%

No                           6%


If your answer is ‘yes’ for how long do you require this scheme to run?


One month                         2%

2 months                             10%

3 months                             32%

6 months                             60%


In the UK, companies in retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure centres have known since March, that they will not have to pay business rates for 2020 to 2021. Should Irish businesses operating in the same sectors be offered similar clarity and support on the rates issue?

Yes                                         99%

No                                           01%


Should a rates holiday be limited to those specific sectors?

Yes                                         48%

No                                          52%


In the UK, businesses in retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure with rateable value up to £15,000 are eligible to receive a grant for £10,000 , while businesses with a rateable value of more than £15,000 and less than £51,000 are eligible for a grant of £25,000 pounds. Should a similar grand scheme be introduced to Ireland?

Yes                         95%

No                          05%


Is rateable valuation an acceptable measurement?

Yes                         58%

No                          42%


If you answered ‘no’, please suggest an alternative method of calculation?

Sample of responses:

–          It should be based on overheads

–          Validated turnover impairment based on 2019 revenues

–          Base it on turnover

–          Combination of jobs provided/turnover and rateable valuation

–          Based on VAT returns per annum

–          Because so many tourism businesses are in low rate areas, number of employees and/or turnover would be fair

–          Based on loss of gross profit for the period of shutdown

In terms of cash stimulus, what amount would you required to assist in the reboot of your business?

€10,000                                22%

€15,000                                14%

€20,000                                15%

€30,000                                26%

€50,000                                23%

Suggestions for other amounts (not listed):

Four respondents indicated they would need €100K plus to come back from this crisis

One respondent stated they would need in excess of €500k to successfully come back from this crisis


22. What other supports would help ensure your business survives this crisis?

(selection of answers)

  •          VAT suspension or reduction
  •          Wage Subsidy Scheme to be continued
  •          Grant aid as opposed to loans, plus training grants (not tied to LEO)
  •          Expert advice on how to change our business model to suit new business environment
  •          Tax as well as rates relief
  •         We need long term reliefs because it is going to take us two years to get out of this crisis
  •         Clamp down on black market –already there are a lot of hairdressers and beauticians working on a mobile basis – for salon business like mine with town centre locations and high overheads, now having to deal with social distancing as well, we could lose out big time.
  •           We need to be inventive and offer incentives for airlines to fly into Ireland and incentives for holiday makers to take ferries from UK to Ireland (as soon as safe to do so)
  •         Reduction in insurance cost
  •         Commercial water charges lifted for 6 months
  •         Lower VAT and bring seasonal workers onto the TWISS Scheme

Can you estimate business losses for 2020?

Zero-  10% losses:      1%

10% – 25% losses:      6%

25% – 50% losses:    33%

50% – 70% losses:    31%

70% – 80% losses:    15%

80% – 90% losses:     8%

90% – 100% losses:   5%


Should the rate of VAT be reduced for tourism and hospitality sector?

Yes         93%

No          7%


What would be an appropriate VAT rate for tourism and hospitality?

Selection of replies:

* 0% for remainder of 2020 was most popular answer (just over 30% of respondents)

5% was second most popular, followed by 7% and 9%

** respondents in the hairdressing and beauty sectors reminded us that they need to be included!


Have you availed of any supports from LEO Clare, if so which ones?


Business Continuity Grant:  31 %

Online Trading Grant: 19%

Mentoring:   35%

Other:  15%


Those in receipt of a LEO Clare support grant, were asked if they found this support useful/ beneficial?

Yes:        74%

No:         26%


How important is training at a time like this?

Irrelevant                            13 %

useful                                    42%

important                            15%

very important                  30%


With free online courses available right now have you or your stuff taken the opportunity to up-skill are re-skill? If so, please indicate in which areas?


Business continuity/financials:   43%

Sales and marketing:                      41%

Social media:                                     65%

Lean:                                                     7%

Project management:                         7%

Other:                                                    4%

·         Many of the respondents ticked more than one option

Those who ticked ‘Other’ were asked to specify. The top answers were

–          Infection control

–          Sanitising course

–          Health & Safety



Has your insurance company been cooperative during this crisis?

Yes                                         23 %

No                                          48%

Other please specify?         29%


Selection of Replies:

–          They didn’t get back to me

–          No discussions with them

–          They made a token gesture – 10% rebate

Can you please rate the standard of communication and support from your insurance company during the crisis to date?

Poor:                      49%

Moderate:            31%

Good:                     14%

Very good:            5%

Excellent:              1%


Has your bank been supportive during this crisis?


Yes                         71%

No                          29%


Please rate the level of support and communication from your bank

Poor                      24%

Moderate            29%

Good                     23%

Very good            15%

Excellent              9%



This question for businesses operating in retail, tourism, hospitality and leisure sectors.

Are you concerned about future government guidelines / protocols for your sector?

Yes                         86%

No                          14%

If your answered ‘yes’, what are your main concerns?

Selection of responses:

– Uncertainty

– Not being able to open on full time/full capacity basis

– Lack of engagement around the roadmap for economic recovery

– Very little engagement with the worst affected businesses

– Lack of certainty about who to look to for guidance

– Cost of implementation of whatever guidelines are coming down the track

– I’m afraid that the guidelines will further erode our chances to trade in a viable way, let alone be profitable

– The protocols / guidelines will keep us on the road to recession – it will be impossible to turn a profit

– They are necessary, but the result will be failure for businesses on a mass scale

– We expect vastly reduced footfall with 100% overheads

– The government needs to be visionary if the Irish economy is to bounce back within two or three years. If they aren’t then we are in for a long economic depression

– The supports need to continue long after re-opening


What measures do you plan to put in place to meet physical distancing requirements?

Selection of replies:

– Selling more online (retailer)

– Whatever is necessary (restaurant owner)

– Whatever the HSA tell us to do – hopefully, there’s a bit of leeway because one size doesn’t fit all

– Making sure staff are familiar with protocols, having sanitiser for customers and staff, less seating, more space between tables

– We’ll have to introduce shift work to our salons (hairdresser)

– Do our own health and safety plan and make sure the staff are trained and wearing PPE (restaurant)

– Limiting customers to two at a time (retailer)

– Plenty of clear signage and we’ll install Perspex at the till

– Strict sanitising procedures in place, clear rules about staff responsibilities, changing rooms to be cleaned/sanitised after every use. Take chairs and any other unnecessary furniture out of the shop to limit potential spread of virus (retailer)


The following questions are for businesses based in Ennis


Will Ennis town centre need to be pedestrianised to accommodate physical distancing requirements?

Yes                                         70%

No                                          30%

If you answered ‘yes’, which streets should be pedestrianised?

Abbey St from Woollen Shop to The Square:    77%

O’Connell St:  90%

High Street from Salthouse Lane to The Square:  48%

Other:  27%   

*Many respondents chose more than one option

‘Other’ please specify / see selection of answers:

– All retail streets

– We need to pedestrianise the streets in the town centre if we are to have social distancing, but make sure elderly / at risk groups are allowed drive into town centre on certain days or times

– Same as we had it during the Fleadh – it worked

– Yes, we need it now but on temporary basis only for COVID-19, we’ll need to be able to review it

– The market area should be included


If pedestrianisation is introduced, what measures can Clare County Council put in place to help address delivery access and parking concerns?


Provide clear timetable for delivery/store access

for businesses located in affected streets:      82%

Free parking on certain days / times in town car parks:    74%

Park and ride for daily commuters from periphery of town:     28%

Other:   22%


Other, please specify / see selection of answers:

–          Can the old Boy’s National School be used for parking?

–          Allow parking spaces in the centre of town be designated as outdoor dining/socialising areas run by local businesses, after 6pm and at weekends

–          Free parking for the rest of 2020

–          Encourage street entertainment (by permit only to ensure quality)  in designated spots only

–          Don’t allow refuse trucks through the town during shop opening hours

–          Can you make a list or map of areas/spots where employees can park on the edge of town?

–          Can we get a town bus?

–          Can we just keep the streets clean and sanitised, but not pedestrianised

–          I’m frightened by this. Every time the town is pedestrianised my business goes down




For more information contact: Margaret O’Brien   E:

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