Business Barometer®: No new cheer for small business sector this holiday season

November 26, 2020 – Small business sentiment remained muted heading into the holiday season, rising about 2 index points to 55.7*, well below levels recorded over the summer, on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Business Barometer®. The three-month outlook remained considerably lower at 35.2 index points.

“Business owners can’t afford to think too far into the future right now, especially with new restrictions on business activities cropping up in different regions across the country,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist. “They’re still operating on 70 per cent capacity on average, which hasn’t improved at all since the summer.”

Staffing plans remained largely unchanged, with 24 per cent of businesses planning to cut back on full-time staff in the next three months and 11 per cent planning to hire. Overall, 30 per cent of owners said their business is in good shape, while 27 per cent said it is in bad shape.

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

Provincial results: Quebec and Prince Edward Island remain least optimistic

Business owners in Prince Edward Island (42.0) and Quebec (44.3) were the least optimistic, followed by those in Newfoundland and Labrador (46.6) and Alberta (48.9). Businesses in British Columbia (62.0), Ontario (60.3) and Saskatchewan (59.0) had the best outlooks, compared to the rest of the country. New Brunswick (52.3), Manitoba (52.7) and Nova Scotia (57.4) businesses posted results within a few index points of the national average.

Industry results: Hospitality sector posts lower optimism levels

Businesses in the hospitality sector were the least optimistic this month at 48.6 index points. They have a capacity utilization rate of 50.4 per cent, well below the all-sector average and only higher than the arts and recreation sector rate of 42.1 per cent. The health services (60.8) and professional services (60.1) sectors were the most upbeat this month.

Read the November Business Barometer®

November 2020 findings are based on 984 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. *Data reflect responses received from November 2 to 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.1 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