Impacts of COVID-19 on businesses

The latest digital copy of the OTR magazine assessing the impacts of COVID-19 on businesses.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) conducted a business impact survey over the weekend, which showed that a quarter of small businesses are not able to pay April’s commercial lease or mortgage payments as a result of COVID-19 disruptions. CFIB acknowledged that small business confidence fell to a new historic low. CFIB maintains a “Business Barometer”, which indicated a 10-point drop earlier in the month, has fallen further by 19 index points to 30.8 from February’s level of 60.5.

The survey found that the hardest-hit sectors include: Hospitality; Arts, Entertainment & Recreation; and, Personal Services.

In Whitchurch-Stouffville there are 266 businesses within the hardest-hit sectors as identified by CFIB, or 26.8% of our total business mix. Additionally, the Town is closely monitoring the well-being of other identified at-risk sectors, such as Retail Trade, Healthcare & Social Assistance, and Educational Services, which account for another 28.5 % of the business mix and total to 283 businesses.

March 2020 has turned out to be a month like no other in Canada’s economic history,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist. “Small business sentiment has never been this low in the Business Barometer’s 32-year history, including during the 2008 and 1990 recessions.

CFIB reported that only one in five businesses now report being fully open (down from one in three last week), while 42 per cent of business owners are worried about having to close their business permanently.

In the wake of a fast-changing economic environment, every business organization, municipality, county, region, province, state and nation has launched a business survey in order to assess the impact. The Stouffville Chamber of Commerce launched a business survey last week, but the survey hasn’t closed yet.

In general business surveys, which generally fail to collect business sector-specific information, there were inklings that the Tech Sector has not only survived the initial impact of COVID-19, but has started to thrive. “Already, e-commerce predictions for 2020 have been exceeded, with lockdowns around the world forcing consumers to shop big online instead of in the shops,” reported The Times of Israel (26 March 20).

In Whitchurch-Stouffville, “The Tech Sector accounts for 30 businesses and 849 employees,” said David Tuley, Town Economic Development Officer. “’High Tech’, as it is often referred to, is spread across numerous broad sectors including Information, Services, and Manufacturing. We have some stellar companies, “like Wolf Advanced Technology, Scentroid, Teva, Cesaroni, Bizzone, Acce Info, 4GL Solutions, and Infomaxium – yet, they account for a minority of our overall economy.”

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