Fears of Second Wave Resulting in Drop in Retail Sales for Many Small Businesses

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TORONTO – BUSINESS – Half of the small businesses across Canada report they have seen a further drop in sales as a result of fears of a second wave of COVID-19, finds the latest survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In some regions that are under new restrictions, like Winnipeg and Toronto, that number rises to as many as 70 percent.

“Small businesses still haven’t recovered from the first wave of COVID-19 lockdown measures. In fact, 37 percent of all businesses across Canada report they are actually losing money every day they are open,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “The new round of restrictions in several regions are already proving to be devastating to them, especially as new supports from the government remain in the development stage.”

Select regions* under new government restrictions

Businesses that have seen a further drop in sales as a result/fear of the “second wave”

Businesses losing money right now for every day they are open


70 percent

50 percent


70 percent

54 percent


68 percent

55 percent

Quebec City

61 percent

46 percent


59 percent

48 percent


57 percent

45 percent


55 percent

44 per cent


51 percent

37 percent

*The samples for some regions experiencing lockdowns were too small to include in this chart

While businesses in the hospitality (76 percent) and arts and recreation (69 percent) sectors were more likely to report that sales were down due to fears of a second wave, businesses in sectors unaffected by new provincial restrictions have also seen sales drop recently. A “second wave” is therefore likely to have widespread effects on the economy, and small businesses will need all the support they can get during these critical times.

CFIB urges all governments to support businesses through the coming months by:

  • Provide a top-up to 90 percent for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) for firms subject to additional COVID-19 related closures as is planned for the rent subsidy
  • Immediately deliver on the promised expansion of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan program by $20,000 with an extra $10,000 forgivable portion
  • Immediately deliver on the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), ensuring all firms subject to additional COVID-19 related full or partial closures can access the top-up to 90 percent
  • Ensure new businesses started in 2020 can access all the major government support programs, including CEBA, CEWS, and CERS
  • Deliver retroactive rent support to those firms whose landlords refused to participate in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) from April to September
  • Share all evidence from provincial health authorities that have led to decisions related to additional business closures
  • Announce additional provincial supports for all firms subject to new closures

“An alarming 71 percent of small business owners say that governments need to do a better job at reporting COVID-19 related health statistics in order to support consumer confidence. A growing number of small firms are feeling punished by provincial governments despite taking major steps to protect the health and well-being of their customers and employees. This needs to change,” Kelly concluded.

Source for CFIB data
Preliminary results for the COVID-19 recovery survey – October 2020, the online survey started October 22, 2020, n = 3,901. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of +/-1.6%, 19 times out of 20.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.

SOURCECanadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)
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