Around 6% of businesses that were operating in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic began, appeared to have closed by the end of last year, new data from the Central Statistics Office has found.
Of the 1.5 million people employed in all the businesses captured by the survey, just 2% had been working in those that shut down.
“The highest proportion of enterprises that appear closed were in the real estate activities sector (10%) and the accommodation and food service activities sector (9%),” said Sorcha O’Callaghan, CSO statistician.
The survey also discovered that one in every ten businesses, employing around 4% of those at work, were at risk of closure at the end of 2021.
The remaining 84% of businesses claimed to be trading normally at the end of last year, the business survival research discovered.
Those companies and partnerships collectively account for 94% of those staff in jobs.
The data excludes those businesses in agriculture, financial services, public administration, education, human health and social work and only those with more than two employees were included.
New enterprises that opened since 2019 are not included in the survey and the CSO also point out that in the course of normal times businesses do open and shut down.
The survival rate for smaller businesses appeared to be lower than that for larger firms, the study found.
Around 7% of micro enterprises, defined as employing between two and nine members of staff, appeared to have closed between since 2019.
However, among those companies where in excess of 250 people are employed, the closure rate was just 0.5%.
The highest risk of closure at the end of last year, at 18%, lay with firms in the “Other Services” sector, which includes businesses such as a gyms and hairdressers.
The risk was also high in construction, where 15% were in danger of having to shut up shop, and accommodation and food service where 14% claimed to be exposed.
“Restrictions during the pandemic had a significant impact on all these sectors,” said Ms O’Callaghan.
“Almost one in eight (12%) micro enterprises in 2019 were at risk of closing at the end of 2021. This was followed by almost 4% of small enterprises, whereas less than 2% of both large enterprises (1.5%) and medium enterprises (1.9%) were in this category,” she said.
“Among the 653 large enterprises in 2019, 640 (98%) were still in business at the end of 2021. There were also more than nine in ten medium enterprises at 96% and small enterprises at 94% which survived at the end of 2021. Micro enterprises had an 81% survival rate,” she added.
The data comes just days after the State’s wage subsidy scheme, which sustained many firms during the pandemic, ended for the vast majority of businesses.
Insolvency experts are predicting an uptick in business closures over the coming months as companies that became dependent on the subsidies are forced once again to stand on their own two feet.