Business Barometer®: Small business confidence plummets in October; retail sector posts lowest outlook despite start of holiday shopping

Toronto, October 27, 2022 – Small business confidence took a nosedive in October, reaching levels not seen since the early months of the pandemic amid important cost increases, according to the latest Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Business Barometer®. The 3-month index dropped 3 points to 46.4, while the 12-month index dropped to 51.4 index points.

“Small businesses are facing a lot of worries right now—many have not yet repaid the debt they accumulated during the pandemic, while also facing another interest rate hike from the Bank of Canada due to the unresolved inflation challenge. In fact, 34% of owners now say borrowing costs are causing difficulties for their business, a significant increase compared to the 21% recorded last January,” said Simon Gaudreault, Chief Economist and Vice-President of Research at CFIB.

Overall, 38% of businesses say they are in good shape and 15% say they are in bad shape. Average price increase plans saw a small uptick to 4.2%, a level still among the highest ever seen, while wage increase plans remained steady at 3.1%. Staffing plans are also muted, with only 18% planning to hire full-time staff in the next 3 months, and 16% planning to reduce staff.

Across the country, Ontario (43.6) saw the lowest short-term outlook and the biggest drop in confidence. Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta saw the biggest gains.

Retail businesses least optimistic heading into holiday shopping season
Despite the holiday shopping season being just around the corner, businesses in the retail sector posted the biggest short-term drop in optimism (-4.2 index points) and were the least optimistic of the sectors at 41.1, followed by agriculture at 42.5. Businesses in information and recreation (69.8) and personal services (55.8) were the most optimistic.

“Typically, we would expect retail to see a boost this time of year, so it’s concerning that the sector is showing such a negative outlook for the next three months,” added Andreea Bourgeois, Director of Economics at CFIB. “It really speaks to the anxiety business owners are feeling about inflation and lower consumer spending intentions.”

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB

October Business Barometer®: October findings are based on 752 responses from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received from October 6 to 13. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20. Every new month, the entire series of indicators is recalculated for the previous month to include all survey responses received in that previous month.

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 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