Online Sales Up Even As Shopfronts Reopen

15 Sep 2021 | 12.04 pm

Online Sales Up Even As Shopfronts Reopen

Facebook report finds Irish SMEs more than averagely optimistic

15 Sep 2021 | 12.04 pm

Almost 80% of Irish SMEs are operational and generating revenue as the country reopens from the pandemic, according to a report from Facebook.

And even as shops reopen, more businesses are reporting growth in online sales. Overall, Irish SMEs surveyed in July reported a significant increase in sales and confidence compared to the last report in February 2021.

Of the 78% operational businesses, one third reported higher sales, as against the 10% reporting same in February. According to the report, online sales became a lifeline during the pandemic to help keep many businesses afloat. It shows that those who made the pivot online are still reaping the benefits, even as stores physically reopen.

Half of Irish SMEs report that at least a quarter of their revenue comes from digital sales, up from 35% in February, and of the 30 countries surveyed Ireland showed the second biggest gain in terms of the share of SMEs using digital tools to support their growth.

However, female-led SMEs, both in Ireland and globally, are recovering more slowly, with 32% of women reporting higher sales compared to 43% of men. A lower percentage of female-led SMEs (72% versus 83% for male-led) were operational in July.

Director of business Oliver Sewell (pictured) said: “It’s fantastic to see the significant increase in sales and confidence among Irish SMEs in our latest report. It’s clear that the easing of restrictions have contributed to a crucial boost in economic activity, and in turn have had a positive impact on customer demand and employment outlook for small businesses.

“Online sales were a critical lifeline for many SMEs through the pandemic, and the shift online is set to endure. Half of Irish SMEs are now making at least 25% of their sales online, even as physical stores have reopened.

“This is an opportunity to remind people that shopping online doesn’t mean they have to turn their back on small Irish businesses. They have worked incredibly hard to keep afloat and establish digital storefronts over the past year. These businesses deserve to be found, and they can be found online in a matter of seconds through our platforms.”

Employment trends are also positive, with 18% of business owners having to reduce their workforce compared to 25% in February. And 18% of Irish SMEs saying they plan to increase temporary employment over the next six months with seasonal hires.

Irish SMEs also appear more optimistic about their future trading, with 64% saying they are confident in their ability to stay open for the next 12 months, up from 53% in February and well above the global average of 48%. However, 36% of Irish SMEs still expect to encounter cash flow challenges, an improvement on the 54% of companies with these concerns a year ago.

Some of the headline figures from the report, with February figure in brackets in each case:

  • 78%  (68%) are operational or engaging in revenue-generating activities; 72% for female-led versus 83% for male-led
  • 50% (35%) made at least 25% of their sales online
  • 36% (10%) are reporting higher sales
  • 32% for female-led versus 43% for male-led
  • 35% (62%) are reporting lower sales; 38% for female-led versus 29% for male-led
  • 18% (25%) reduced employment due to Covid-19.
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