As Economy Opens, Sales Lag Far Behind Pre-Pandemic Numbers

TORONTO – BUSINESS – As more small businesses across Canada are open, the Canadian Federation for Independent Business says that only 15 percent are reporting that sales have returned to pre-pandemic numbers. The worst-hit business sector is transportation where the CFIB report says sales are at four percent of where they were before COVID-19.

“There are definite signs that economies are awakening, with more than half of small businesses reporting they are fully open in some provinces,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “However, for many recovery is another question as just opening your doors does not guarantee your customers will return. I am deeply worried about the future of businesses in sectors like transportation, health and social services, arts and recreation and restaurants/hospitality as fewer than one in 10 of these firms have sales at or near normal. Our main street businesses will need a lot more support, both from government and from consumers, before the crisis is behind them.”

44 percent of Canada’s small businesses are now fully open, up from 38 percent two weeks ago, finds a new survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). However, many regional and sectoral differences remain and some sectors, particularly restaurants and hospitality, continue to be largely closed. Only 15 percent of small firms report their sales have returned to normal.

New Brunswick (59 percent) and Alberta (54 percent) lead the way with the largest share of open businesses, while Newfoundland and Labrador (24 percent) continue to trail the rest of the country.

Percentage of businesses fully open and sales by province

NB

AB

SK

MB

QC

NS

BC

ON

NL

%  fully open

59

54

51

50

49

47

47

37

24

% normal sales

17

15

25

20

16

21

17

12

5

*Weekly sample size too small in PEI

The impact on small businesses has Minister Joly, who is responsible for Fednor providing additional and expanded support.

“No matter how wide we extend the safety net, businesses across Canada continue to slip through the cracks. Many entrepreneurs are still anxious about whether they will get the help they need. With nearly a billion dollars in support across the country, the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund will fill in some of the gaps. Our message to Canadians is clear: we are here for you now; we will be here for you in the weeks and months to come; and we will get through this together. We’ve got your back,” says Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedNor.

Ontario has seen business openings, according to the survey lag behind other parts of Canada. Premier Ford has said he wants the economy open, but is listening to the medical experts.

Ontario has continued to see COVID-19 numbers climb.