Full-on bounceback still a far-off target for Canada's entrepreneurs

Poll of small-business owners shows just one in four back to making normal sales

Full-on bounceback still a far-off target for Canada's entrepreneurs

There’s been broad agreement among industry groups and policy experts that Canada’s small businesses will be the key to kickstarting an economic recovery. The question now is whether the consumers can come through when local entrepreneurs need them most.

According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB), 63% of small businesses in Canada are fully open, representing a 10% increase over June. That includes 39% that are fully staffed (a 7% gain over June), which reflects a widely reported struggle among entrepreneurs to get their people back to work.

Sales are a particular point of concern, as just one in four (26%) of businesses are reporting that they’re back to making normal sales. When asked about their outlook on consumer spending, more than three out of five business owners expressed worries that spending levels will remain depressed even after the COVID-19 crisis.

“As Canadians drive or walk through their neighbourhoods, they see more open shops and restaurants and may believe that businesses are back to normal operations,” CFIB President Dan Kelly said in a statement. “But behind the counter, the story is often very different.”

According to Kelly, one in four small business owners surveyed report that their sales are down by at least 50%, suggesting that they need even more support from consumers. That runs parallel to new research on small businesses from Visa Canada, which found 52% of small businesses are worried about the odds of revenue recovering to pre-pandemic levels, and 38% concerned about how to attract new customers.

Last week, CFIB released a report indicating that one in seven small businesses are at risk of being sunk in the wake of COVID-19, in addition to the ones that have already gone under. Depending on the trajectory of the recovery in the coming months, the number of Canadian businesses to permanently close their doors could be as few as 55,000 or as many as 218,000.

“With just one month left this summer, CFIB urges Canadians to make this the summer of small business,” Kelly said. “We hope to see Canadians out in force supporting small businesses throughout August.”


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