Business Barometer®: Small business confidence slides backwards in July

July 25, 2019 – Small business optimism took a step back in July, falling 3.7 index points to 57.8 on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®.

“This month’s sentiment isn’t as low as it was at the beginning of the year, but it does suggest that the rapid improvements we saw over the last few months were unsustainable,” said CFIB’s vice-president and chief economist, Ted Mallett. “While wage and price plans remained stable despite the confidence drop, hiring plans are relatively low.”

Overall, 41 per cent of owners estimate their business is in a good state, compared to 14 per cent who say it is in a bad state. Only 16 per cent of owners indicated that they plan to add on full-time staff in the next three months, while 14 per cent plan to cut back.

An index level nearer to 65 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential. 

Provincial results: Optimism levels retreat in most provinces

While seven out of 10 provinces dropped in confidence this month, Ontario experienced by far the biggest loss, falling 6.6 index points to 56.0. Newfoundland & Labrador remained at 50.0 index points, the lowest level in the country, followed by British Columbia (53.3), Saskatchewan (54.3) and Alberta (57.2). Prince Edward Island and Quebec were tied for the most optimistic province in the country at 67.0, followed by Nova Scotia (62.5). Manitoba saw the greatest gain in optimism, rising 4.7 index points to 60.1, while New Brunswick gained 4.0 index points to 61.2. 

Industry results: Professional services and retail lose confidence

Businesses in the professional services (58.1) and retail (54.0) sectors posted the biggest confidence drops this month, falling 7.4 and 5.4 index points respectively. Agriculture remained the least optimistic sector at 51.9, despite a 4.9 index point increase. The hospitality sector was the most optimistic at 65.9, followed by financial services (63.3), manufacturing (62.2) and personal services (61.8). The information sector saw the biggest increase, rising 8.1 index points to 60.9.

Read the Business Barometer®

July 2019 findings are based on 710 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through July 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 per cent 19 times in 20.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 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