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SME Market Report 2020

The Impact of Covid-19 on SMEs

This special edition of The Central Bank of Ireland’s SME Market Report aims to provide context, timely information and a review of the challenges faced by Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by the emergence of Covid-19. The report draws on a range of internal and external data sources to provide an overview of various aspects of the challenge posed to SMEs including the impact of Covid-19 on SME’s performance, firm costs, new lending, and the availability of credit lines, demand for credit, the supply of credit and outstanding debt and performance before Covid-19.

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The Central Bank of Ireland has today published its SME Market Report for 2020 with a special focus on the challenges to firms posed by Covid-19. The report aims to provide a timely monitor of developments in the provision of credit to Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by financial intermediaries.

The Report finds that:

  • The shock to firms’ turnover has been large (21 percent of firms report turnover is 75 percent lower) but differs by sector.
  • Firms with the most constrained revenue have reduced their non-personnel costs the most, those reporting revenue declines of over 50 percent have reduced non-personnel costs by 43 percent. But 39 percent of firms have not reduced costs, increasing to 60 percent where revenues declined 10-49 percent.
  • The Accommodation & Food sector has reduced non-personnel costs the most – 49 percent of firms in this sector have reduced non-personnel costs by more than 50 percent.
  • Survey evidence suggests 39 percent of firms have unpaid invoices, amounting to around 20 percent of 2019 revenue for the typical firm, which may pressure cash flow or amplify shocks upon company failure.
  • As many as 42 percent of firms reports changing or deferring payments to manage cash flow, increasing to 91 percent of firms in the Accommodation & Food sector.
  • Following increases in small non-financial corporation (NFC) non-revolving loans early in the year, compared to 2019, new lending has since declined.
  • As of May, 72 percent of SMEs reported no change in access to finance and 6 percent of SMEs reported a decrease.
  • Smaller firms lack a bank lending relationship, particularly micro firms (36 percent), which can help inform lender’s credit assessments and support the firm’s access to finance.
  • Greater SME indebtedness in the Accommodation & Food sector (20 percent exceeding half of turnover) may limit capacity to borrow more, but 44 per in this sector do not hold any debt, while 57 percent of all firms do not hold any debt.
  • Some of the sectors with the largest amount of outstanding bank debt (Accommodation & Food and Wholesale & Retail) are more exposed to the shock of Covid-19.