Excessive costs and a fall in trade are having a devastating impact on pharmacists, it has been claimed.
Six out of 10 chemist owners say the business environment is getting worse, with sales and footfall both down. And more than half believe trade will fall further in the coming three months.
Costs have also increased for almost a third of them, due to hikes in energy costs, waste charges, commercial rates and rents.
The survey was carried out by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), which called on Government to address the costs of operating a premises.
Rory O'Donnell, IPU president, said the survey showed community pharmacies are not immune to the economic downturn and are faced with the same challenges as other small businesses.
"The level of confidence in the sector not surprisingly is low due to a reduction in consumer demand, economic uncertainty and an increase in business costs," he said.
"The excessive cost environment, in particular draconian rents and exorbitant local charges, including commercial rates, remains an area of concern.
"These costs are having a devastating impact on pharmacies throughout the country, with no action being taken by Government to address this issue."
The IPU represents 1,800 pharmacists across the country, with 120 taking part in its business trends quarterly survey earlier this month.
One in eight said they had reduced costs, while three quarters maintained there had been no change in the number of people they employ.