Will fall mean a rise for Canada's struggling small businesses?

Business survey shows that almost two thirds of SMEs are fully open but will spending increase enough to save them?

Will fall mean a rise for Canada's struggling small businesses?
Steve Randall

Canada’s small and medium sized businesses are pinning their hopes on the fall season to help them offset the heavy price they have paid for the pandemic.

With the back to school and holiday shopping seasons especially critical for retailers, a survey from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows that 64% of businesses said they were fully open, but this had slipped from 66% two weeks ago.

There was a slight increase in the share of respondents that said they were fully staffed – 41% this week compared to 40% two weeks ago – while the percentage that said they were making normal sales remained static at 28%.

“We’re hoping that as people get back to fall routines businesses will get a much-needed revenue boost. Consumers are critical to small businesses and their financial and emotional support means more now than ever,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. 

A recent report showed that small businesses downtown are finding things tougher than their rural peers.

Normal sales challenges
Returning to pre-pandemic sales levels is a challenge for several reasons including fewer customers (58%), customers spending less on average (48%) and operational challenges, such as online sales, shipping, and interrupted supply chains (27%).

Small businesses also reported that government restrictions (20%) and not being able to find staff (18%) are also causing lower than normal revenues.

The CFIB will be intensifying its #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign ahead of Small Business Saturday next month.

There’s also a challenge for this weekend challenge to use the #CanadaUnited hashtag to promote businesses on Twitter or like or share the Canada United video online. For each like, share or hashtag use RBC will contribute 5 cents to a fund that will grant businesses up to $5,000 to help with recovery. 

“This week’s challenge to help small business doesn’t cost anything but time. Extra credit is always an option and with so many restaurants at risk of permanent closure, we are suggesting an extra effort on the long weekend to indulge in some restaurant therapy,” said Jones.