Small and medium-sized businesses are generally optimistic about the year ahead, according to the association representing the sector.
According to ISME’s latest Quarterly Business Trends Survey, business confidence has increased significantly when compared to the same period a year ago.
Expectations around profitability have risen by nearly 30 percentage points compared to the end of 2012, as had the amount of sales being made by firms.
SMEs said current employment levels had risen over the past twelve months, while many companies also predicted a further increase in staffing in the year ahead.
ISME said there was the potential for 50,000 jobs to be created by SMEs this year, though it said this was predicated on “direct action” by Government around business costs.
There was less economic uncertainty amongst businesses, according to the latest survey, though there was still some negative feeling about the general business environment.
ISME also said that the retail sector was not enjoying the same pickup in sales as other areas of the economy, with current sales dropping by 15 percentage points compared to a year ago.