Q1 2024 All-Island Business Monitor

Cross-border traders start 2024 with stronger growth prospects, higher sales and better profit margins than their peers, as trade on the island continues to grow. 

Press Release

Businesses engaged in cross-border trade started the year with a strong tailwind, according to the latest data from InterTradeIreland’s All- Island Business Monitor.  As all island trade in goods hit €2.5 billion in Quarter 1, the survey shows that cross-border traders are out-performing their peers across a wide range of business indicators.  

For all sectors it appears that 2024 got off to a steady start, with over half of businesses reporting that they are stable, and just under a third in growth.  However, it’s clear that cross-border traders are in the strongest position – 41 per cent are in growth mode compared to 26 per cent of firms with no cross-border sales. Businesses that trade across the border also report stronger sales growth and higher profit margins with 1 in 3 (32 per cent) of cross-border traders having a profit margin of over 10 per cent compared to 1 in 5 (21 per cent) of those that don’t trade cross-border.  

According to the survey around 1 in 10 businesses overall are having difficulty sourcing some products or services. Of those having difficulty, 40 per cent are aware that these products can be found on the island, which points to a market opportunity. 

Enterprise Minister, Peter Burke TD says

“The results of InterTradeIreland’s All-island Business Monitor survey highlight again the significant advantages that can be gained for businesses by exporting across the border. Figures from the CSO show that cross-border trade in goods alone was valued at €10.1billion in 2023. The findings also suggest there are further opportunities for cross-border trade, particularly in supply chains. I would encourage businesses to continue to build supply chains on the island as we know they add value in the long-run.” 

Profitability, a key indicator of business health, is continuing to hold up, with 70 per cent of businesses overall reporting that they are profitable. 

Interim Economy Minister, Deirdre Hargey MLA says

“I welcome the publication of the latest All-island Business Monitor. It is a tribute to the work of InterTradeIreland that we are seeing record levels of all-island trade. Trading with the south is often a springboard for businesses to grow into new export markets. My department will be working closely with businesses to ensure they understand the unique dual market access opportunities and the regulatory environment, so they are well placed to take advantage of our export growth potential. The Department will continue to work across all sectors to ensure that business have the necessary skills to support this growth.” 

Despite an easing of headline inflation in both jurisdictions, costs remain the key concern for businesses, with energy bills, supplies and wages the most significant factors.  40 per cent of businesses report that the cost of wages is a challenge. 

InterTradeIreland’s Director of Strategy, Martin Robinson says

“The labour market  for staff across the island is very tight, with competition driving up wages.  According to our data, all sectors are still hiring but larger SMEs are feeling the pressure more than most, with 42 per cent last quarter reporting an intent to hire. This quarter that figure has reduced to 28 per cent.”   

“We know that businesses are dealing with persistent difficulties recruiting staff and finding the correct skills. InterTradeIreland and our partner agencies can help businesses to innovate and to utilise technology and automation to mitigate skills challenges and drive productivity.” 

AIBM Key Findings

Every quarter we publish an in-depth summary of the All-Island Business Monitor Key Findings. Here you can read more detail and an economic analysis of our research.

Select here to download
the full
AIBM Key Findings report.

This infographic illustrates the findings from the All-Island Business Monitor conducted in Q1 2024.

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Download a PDF of the AIBM Q1 2024 infographic.