Around 25,000 businesses in Northern Ireland were still in a vulnerable position from the effects of lockdown even after a total of £2.7bn in government support, a report has said.
The Ulster University Economic Policy Centre said half of all businesses were doing less trade than normal during the second quarter of the year.
On average, firms were reporting a 20% fall in sales - with a 24% fall in export sales.
Even after restrictions were lifted, one in 10 businesses were still shut.
Dr Karen Bonner, one of the report's authors and senior economist with the UUEPC, said: "The pandemic has impacted all parts of the economy, but the two most vulnerable, and least financially resilient, sectors are accommodation and food, and arts and entertainment and both remain heavily reliant on the Job Retention Scheme (JRS)."
The job retention scheme will be replaced from November by a new scheme, which will see government subsidise just 22% of an employee's wages where they are working part-time.
A company will pay the remainder of the part-time wage.
In contrast, the JRS involved government paying 80% of wages of staff who were on furlough and were not working at all.
According to the policy centre, up to 85,000 employees here are still on furlough. Earlier government estimates for the end of July said there were 102,000 still enrolled on the government scheme.
Dr Bonner said: "Given the challenges identified with the ending of the furlough scheme, it is welcome that the Government has announced a replacement, the Job Support Scheme.
"This aims to protect viable jobs and may go some way to achieving that goal, but given the one-third employer contribution for hours not worked, there is a risk firms may retain full-time staff and let part-time staff go, or even not participate in the scheme at all."
In total, £2.7bn has been spent to date in Northern Ireland across the main government support interventions, with the Job Retention Scheme and Bounce-Back Loan scheme, accounting for an estimated £900m and £800m respectively.
Dr Bonner said: "The key challenge for business is the fall in demand and whilst businesses have welcomed the government supports they indicated that due to the suppressed demand, it would not cover the income lost."
Business leaders have warned that the heaviest burden from the pandemic, lockdown and continued restrictions will be felt by small to medium-sized firms.