TORONTO – BUSINESS – It should not come as a surprise, as the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major driver for decisions by many people. Businesses have been seriously impacted. With the move, during the Christmas shopping season putting to put Toronto and Peel region under lockdown, and serious restrictions on Manitoba businesses, that impact will hit hard.
A new CIBC study finds that two-thirds (68 per cent) of Canadian business owners continue to feel the negative impacts of COVID-19, with more than half (57 per cent) believing businesses in their area are in crisis mode and 43 per cent believing businesses are in recovery mode.
Top concerns are a reduced demand for their products and services (37 per cent) and worries about the overall viability of operations (23 per cent). Despite this, the majority (75 per cent) of business owners remain optimistic they will rebound once the pandemic subsides.
The current “Second Wave” COVID-19 surge seeing major increased numbers of cases across Canada could see new lockdowns in Alberta and British Columbia. That will further impact especially small business.
“During these challenging times, Canadian business owners have shown incredible resilience by staying focused on fundamentals and being very nimble and creative,” said Laura Dottori-Attanasio, Group Head, Personal and Business Banking, CIBC. “Our team is engaged with business owners across the country every day. With so many feeling immediate pressures on revenues, we encourage owners to get advice about their overall financial situation including cash flow management and help managing debt levels. Whether business owners are facing challenges, or have an opportunity to capitalize on, we have the tools, advice and the team to help provide a path forward.”
Business Owners Going Virtual, Slashing Costs
Business owners have employed several strategies to continue operating. A third (30 per cent) have increased their virtual presence while a further 16 per cent pivoted their business to operate completely online.
To support cash flow, 56 per cent have used at least one government program this year, and to limit costs, 35 per cent are reducing operating expenses while 28 per cent have cut employee hours. Half (52 per cent) say they are counting on government support to survive.
Close to a third (29 per cent) expect it will take between a year or two for things to get back to normal, with the majority (81 per cent) agreeing the uncertainty of the current environment remains the hardest aspect to manage.
“Canadians have the opportunity to support their local businesses in the coming weeks as we head into the holiday season and I hope we see friends and neighbours rally around their local communities to help make a difference,” added Ms. Dottori-Attanasio.
Other poll findings:
- 72 per cent of business owners say their present stress level is much higher than it was prior to the pandemic
- 57 per cent are looking to build the digital capabilities of their business
- 45 per cent are looking to reduce their debt levels, while 41 per cent are seeking more credit to help with operating capital and 40 per cent are seeking advice to better manage cash flow