A new survey from CFIB found that a mid-range estimate shows 21,000 small businesses at risk of closing in B.C. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

21,000 small businesses in B.C. at risk of closure due to COVID-19: survey

Sectors like hospitality hardest hit, while others like agriculture and construction remain more stable.

A survey done by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) found that more than 21,000 small businesses in B.C. are at risk of closing.

These numbers don’t include businesses that have already closed due to COVID-19.

The CFIB has set up a website that tracks small businesses’ recovery throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to their data, in B.C. only 64 per cent of small businesses are fully open, only 32 per cent of fully staffed, and just 27 per cent are recording normal sales.

The survey, completed by over 5,000 CFIB members, also showed that one in seven small businesses in Canada are at risk of going under. That’s 14 per cent of all small and medium businesses.

“Small businesses are big players in our economy, so minimizing business losses is critical to recovery,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president at CFIB.

“Right now both government support and consumer behaviour are critical to transitioning back to conditions that allow businesses to survive and thrive.”

CFIB estimates that business closures in B.C. due to COVID-19 will range from the low end of 6,395 (4 per cent), to the high-end estimate of 28,920 (16 per cent). A medium range for this estimate is shows that over 21,116 (12 per cent) are at risk.

While CFIB said that they haven’t analyzed the breakdown between rural and urban small businesses, they say that business sectors have been a bigger factor in how well a business is currently doing.

“In sectors like hospitality, those regions will be harder hit, compared to sectors like agriculture and construction,” said Jones. “That’s been a bigger factor than geography.”

Jones and the CFIB know that business closures are inevitable. Their hope and goal is that government can help bring those closures to the lower range of the CFIB’s estimates.

READ ALSO: A restaurant check-in for B.C.’s next phase of restart

Jones added that while some government support has been useful to businesses, there’s a key section of their recovery plan being left out – rent.

“One in three businesses are saying that rent support is missing,” said Jones.

While government support will be key in recovery for small and medium-sized businesses, consumers will play a large role in helping keep these establishments open.

“There’s been a lot of shopping that’s shifted to larger businesses like Walmart and Amazon,” said Jones. “We’d really like for that to shift back and for consumers to support their local small businesses.”

The methodology for the study shows a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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