1 in 5 Irish SMEs fear that their future viability is at risk due to COVID-19

The push for recovery: Survey from Visa reveals Irish SME fighting spirit post lockdown

  • 24% of Irish SMEs sold products and services online for the first time since the pandemic emerged
  • 63% of Irish shoppers are purchasing from businesses in the community because it supports the local economy
  • Despite support from local communities, 1 in 5 Irish SMEs fear that their future viability is at risk due to COVID-19

DUBLIN, August 5th, 2020 – New research commissioned by Visa, titled the “Visa Back to Business” study, has revealed that approximately 1 in 5 (18%) of Irish small to medium enterprises (SMEs) believe that their future viability is at risk due to the commercial impact of COVID-19. Despite these concerns, Irish SMEs have seen a wave of support from the public with 70% of companies surveyed highlighting that their local community had rallied behind their business.

The “Visa Back to Business” study assesses the dramatic shift to digital commerce in response to the pandemic, driven largely by changing consumer expectations for a safe and contactless payment moment. The study reveals fundamental shifts in Ireland’s retail landscape post lockdown with almost 7 out of 10 (68%) shoppers admitting to using cash less, preferring digital payment methods. Contactless payments have surged in popularity, with more Irish shoppers (70%) using contactless more often in light of COVID-19 compared to any other market surveyed. The research also found that over half (57%) of Irish shoppers would be likely to switch stores so they can tap to pay for goods and services. 

Consumers also embraced online shopping with the research finding that during lockdown, 28% of shoppers bought groceries or household items online for the first time.

Many small businesses have been quick to adapt to these trends with 31% of Irish SMEs revealing that they are accepting less cash or have stopped accepting cash altogether. Approximately a quarter (24%) of SMEs surveyed sold products or services online for the first time as a result of COVID-19, with 17% now offering home delivery to customers as companies adopted new practices to maintain business.

Commenting on the research findings, Philip Konopik, Ireland Country Manager, Visa said: “In the face of the extraordinary challenges caused by COVID-19, many Irish SMEs have shown entrepreneurial spirit, finding new ways to keep serving consumers. Nevertheless, as the economy re-opens, many will need our help to recover and operate in a new economic environment. That’s why Visa is working with partners to offer small firms across Ireland the tools, advice and expertise so they can adapt their business for the new retail landscape and take advantage of ecommerce and digital payments.  

We’re also proud to support the national Champion Green initiative and are calling on consumers to support their local businesses both off and online because, now more than ever, Where You Shop Matters. Sign the pledge on ChampionGreen.ie to show that you are supporting local and helping the economy bounce back.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to small businesses, Visa has launched a new campaign aimed at supporting independent businesses as they adapt for a post COVID-19 environment. ‘Where You Shop Matters’ provides assistance in three strategic areas that are critical to the economic recovery of European communities:  

  • Enabling SMEs to build an online presence:One in two Irish consumers are shopping online wherever possible due to the pandemic. For time strapped small business, taking a business online can be a costly, daunting process. That’s why Visa has launched its Digital Business Kit freely available to Irish SMEs providing expert end-to-end guidance – from setting up and growing a digital presence, to transferring essential parts of a business online.
  • Empowering small firms to take advantage of digital payments:As part of an industry-wide response to COVID-19, Visa, together with the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) and participating banks, rolled out plans to raise the payment limit from €30.00 to €50.00 on all contactless enabled debit and credit cards.  With many stores across Ireland now accepting the increased limit, Visa has updated its self-serve Point of Sale (POS) portal with new material referencing the €50 limit. Small businesses can use the service to request signage, designed to inform and drive customer awareness of the new limits at point of sale
  • Encourage consumers to support small businesses: Research shows that consumers value their local and independent businesses, with 63% of survey participants stating that they shop with them to support the local economy. As businesses across Ireland begin to reopen, Visa has backed the national Champion Green initiative which encourages consumers to shop local. Supported by Kilkenny Design and Visa, in association with Retail Excellence, Small Firms Association and Chambers Ireland, Champion Green is a consumer marketing initiative backed by a €1 million investment to drive support for local businesses.

Last month, Visa announced a global campaign to digitally enable 50 million small businesses in the recovery process with eight million of those to be in Europe. For more information, please visit https://www.visa.ie/promotions/where-you-shop-matters/business.html

Methodology: Visa Back to Business Study

The Visa Back to Business study was conducted by Wakefield Research between June 18 and June 29, 2020, among 250 small business owners at companies with 100 employees or fewer in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and UAE. Separately, the consumer portion of the survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between June 12 and June 29, 2020, among 1,000 Adults ages 18+ in the US, and 500 Adults ages 18+ in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore and UAE. The data was weighted to ensure an accurate representation of adults ages 18+ in each market.