Life after COVID-19: Some businesses may never return, survey suggests
OTTAWA -- Nearly a third of small business owners who have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic say they're not sure if they'll ever reopen.
That's the result of a survey put out by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
The online survey by the CFIB received nearly 9,700 responses, with 31 per cent saying their business was fully closed. Of those who said their businesses are fully closed due to COVID-19, 32 per cent said they were unsure if they would ever reopen; 0.5 per cent said they would permanently close.
Sixty per cent of those who were fully closed were still confident they'd be able to come back, but the timeline of the pandemic and its effect on the economy could shake that confidence.
The CFIB asked, "If COVID-19 continues to pose a serious challenge, how long can your business survive in the current context without additional support from government?"
One quarter of respondents said their business would not be able to survive longer than a month without help. Forty-two per cent said they could last up to three months.
Half of all respondents had said they had laid off some or all of their staff because of the pandemic, while 28% said they had cut hours. Another 14% warned that layoffs were coming within the next week.
The federal government recently announced a 75 per cent wage subsidy for businesses in Canada, to help keep people employed. Businesses would have to prove they've lost at least 30 per cent of their revenues because of the pandemic. According to the CFIB's survey, 71 per cent of respondents said their revenues had fallen between 26 per cent and 100 per cent since early January.
While 68 per cent of respondents found the wage subsidy hepful, the CFIB says it wants to see more actions by provincial governments and the federal government to ease the stresses on small- and medium-sized businesses. The federation is asking provincial governments to reduce or otherwise defer property taxes, mortgages, and rents on businesses, and it's asking the federal government to delay its planned carbon tax increase.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday the planned increase to the federal carbon tax, to $30 per tonne from $20 per tonne, would go ahead on April 1.
"We need to do things to make sure that we're both supporting families through ordinary times and through difficult times, and moving forward on continuing the fight against climate change," he said.
At least one business in Ottawa has indicated it will not be returning after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Morning Owl, on Bank Street, announced on Instagram, it would be closing its doors for good.
"Thriving as a small business is difficult at the best of time’s and the current economic environment is unfortunately too big an obstacle to overcome," the coffee shop said.