COVID-19 has changed how Canadians spend at small businesses: Sales remain perilously low

#SmallBusinessEveryDay encourages Canadians to shop at local, independent businesses

Toronto, July 21, 2020 – New data shows payment methods at small businesses have shifted away from cash toward electronic options like credit, debit and Interac e-Transfer®. Despite this shift, sales remain concerningly low for this time of year, according to the latest data on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard, part of its #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign. 

Small business recovery ticked up slightly with 62 per cent of small businesses fully open (58 per cent last week), 37 per cent fully staffed (35 per cent last week), and 26 per cent making normal sales (24 per cent last week). Additional data from Chase Merchant Services shows credit and debit card sales for Canadian small businesses are on average 25 per cent lower for March-June 2020 than the same time in 2019. Monthly credit and debit sales have improved since lows seen earlier this year in April when more businesses were closed (April was 40 per cent lower, May was 25 per cent lower and June was 15 per cent lower than in 2019).

“While consumer spending through credit and debit seems to be improving, the broader picture shows that there has been a shift in payment methods and sales remain at perilous levels for many businesses,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President at CFIB. 

One in three small business owners report they have increased their use of credit cards and Interac e-transfer as a method of getting and making payments, and one in four have increased their use of debit cards, while 38 per cent have decreased their use of cash since the pandemic started and seven per cent have stopped using cash altogether.

“Things are slowly getting better, but small businesses depend on Canadians to choose local so the hardware store down the street, the independent pet shop, the mom and pop bakery can survive. This is what the #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign is all about. We urge everyone to be mindful of where they spend in the coming months and to choose a small, independent business every chance they get,” continued Pohlmann.

Since CFIB launched, thousands of Canadians have taken the challenge to support independent businesses. CFIB is also profiling other initiatives across the country that support small business recovery, like The Big Spend, which encourages Canadians to make the conscious choice to spend at small businesses on July 25.

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

Source for CFIB data
These are preliminary results for Your Business and COVID-19 – Survey #17, a new CFIB online survey started on July 17, 2020, completed by 4,712 CFIB members. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percent, 19 times out of 20.

Source for Chase Merchant Services data
Chase Merchant Services is a leading payment processor across Canada and part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Their data reflects Chase payment processing records for Canadian businesses making typically under $15 million in annual sales.

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

About #SmallBusinessEveryDay
The #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign is an extension of CFIB’s annual Small Business Saturday. The campaign encourages local shopping, promotes initiatives to support small business and provides posters and other tools for businesses to use. It is supported by Scotiabank, Chase Merchant Services, eBay Canada, Intuit Canada, Interac Corp and Star Metroland Media. To find out more about being a media sponsor please contact