The latest SME Credit Demand Survey shows that turnover across the SME sector was significantly lower in the months from March to October than at any other stage in the survey's history.
The greatest decline was registered in the hotels and restaurants sector, with turnover in the sector sinking by 96%.
The SME Credit Demand Survey is the most comprehensive survey of SME credit demand and covers over 1,500 respondents through in-depth discussions.
It aims to capture a full picture of the SME landscape in Ireland, with micro enterprises, small-sized enterprises and medium-sized enterprises accurately represented as per the percentage make-up of SMEs in Ireland.
Today's survey reveals that 29% of all businesses reported increased or stable turnover since the onset of Covid-19 compared to 80% in September 2019.
35% of SMEs said they made a loss since the onset of Covid-19, compared to 31% saying they had reported profits.
Of those firms that made a loss, the average level of profit decline is 48%.
Of those companies that made a profit, the average level of profit increase reported is 17%.
Today's survey also shows that 18% of SMEs applied for bank finance since the middle of March, a 2% decline on September 2019.
12% of SMEs said they were planning to apply for finance in the next six months, a significant decline on the 18% reported in September of last year.
72% of those SMEs that did not apply to bank credit cited sufficient internal funds as their reasoning. 19% stated that they did not wish to be indebted, while 13% believed that their current lines of credit were sufficient.
The average cost of credit on outstanding loans was reported at 5.8%, up from 5.1% in September 2019. But 35% of SMEs were not certain of the interest rate attached to their outstanding loans, the survey noted.
The survey shows that awareness of business support and initiatives was highest for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) at 94%, while awareness of Enterprise Ireland initiatives stood at 88% and Local Enterprise Office initiatives at 81%.
73% of SMEs were also aware of payment breaks, with 65% aware of the Credit Guarantee Scheme and 60% aware of Tax Warehousing.
60% of SMEs said they had availed of the TWSS, rising to 73% of small businesses and 67% of medium-sized enterprises.
In addition, one in five of all SMEs have availed of Tax Warehousing, a figure which rises to just over a third of all medium-sized SMEs.
The survey shows that the hotels and restaurants sector has been most likely to avail of the TWSS and Tax Warehousing facilities, with a majority of the manufacturing sector (59%) and the wholesale sector (56%) having availed of the TWSS scheme.
86% of SMEs said they had invested in their business in line with public health guidelines since the onset of Covid-19, with the average amount invested just under €14,000.
Minister Donohoe said today's survey gives important insights into how SMEs in Ireland area are dealing with the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.
"One of our main concerns is to ensure that SMEs continue to have access to sufficient liquidity, and that access to credit for SMEs is maintained," the Minister said.
"The Government has announced a range of measures to assist companies deal with the consequences of the Covid-19 restrictions, and to ensure that they have access to sufficient liquidity and I particularly welcome the high level of awareness among SMEs for these supports," he said.
"The SME Credit Demand Survey series allows us to gain vital understanding of the Irish SME landscape and is an invaluable resource that allows us to develop, refine and implement policy measures to support our indigenous businesses," the Minister added.