A quarter of small and medium sized businesses surveyed by the financial services provider Bibby say they will only be able to cover their business costs for the next three to six months in the current environment.

One in five business owners said they believed it would take over a year before they return to pre-Covid productivity levels.

Bibby surveyed over 200 Irish SME owners and managers across the manufacturing, construction, wholesale, transport, retail and services sectors earlier this month.

Accessing cashflow remains the biggest obstacle to SMEs with one third of participants selecting it as their prime concern.

That was followed by loss of customers and reductions in staff numbers.

Bankruptcy remains a concern for around 14% of businesses.

"Our research reveals the stark reality currently facing Ireland's SME sector," Mark O'Rourke, Managing Director of Bibby Financial Services Ireland, said. 

"Many are dealing with severe cashflow difficulties as a result of supply chain disruption, while the need to ensure social distancing is also causing logistical challenges and making margins tighter."

When it comes to a Brexit trade deal, SME owners were surprisingly optimistic with six in ten saying they believed a trade deal between the EU and UK could be hammered out by year end.

However, the cost of failure would be significant with 63% believing that a failure to secure a deal would have a negative impact on their business, compounding the impact of Covid-19.