At the time of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union in June, 97% of businesses here had no plans on how to deal with a Brexit, according to a new business monitor.

The latest Business Monitor Report from InterTradeIreland shows that since the vote nearly a quarter (23%) of Irish firms now expect either the level of investment here to fall or for some slowdown in the pace of investment.

The research, which covers April to June, also found a marked difference in perceptions about the possible impact of Brexit on cross-border trade.

57% of SMEs in the South expect Brexit to have a negative impact on cross-border sales, while just 25% of firms in the North are of that view.

Meanwhile, more than a quarter of businesses on the island (27%) are concerned about exchange rates, an increase of 14% from the first three months of the year.

According to the study of 750 businesses, the hospitality industry is expecting a sharp decline in cross-border sales with 84% of hospitality companies expecting a downturn.

In comparison, around half of those in the manufacturing (49%), construction (52%) and servicing sectors (52%) foresee a sharp decline in their cross-border business.

Of those questioned, retailers are the most positive, with 15% anticipating an impact – this may be due to exchange rate volatility.

When broken down by size of company, almost half of small companies (46%) anticipate a decrease in sales compared to a third of large (33%) and medium (36%) companies, meaning smaller businesses are feeling more vulnerable to this development than medium-to-larger enterprises.

Commenting on the results, Strategy and Policy Director at InterTradeIreland Aidan Gough said: “It is evident in the responses to our latest Business Monitor that the outcome of the EU referendum has caught many businesses on the hop and introduced a large degree of uncertainty into the marketplace.

“Clearly businesses will need support to manage the ramifications of Brexit, particularly in the provision of timely and relevant information to assist them to adjust to any new trading relationships that emerge from Brexit negotiations.”