Business Barometer®: Confidence steadies in October

Toronto, October 26, 2017 – After four straight months of decline, small business optimism improved slightly in October, according to the latest Business Barometer® survey, released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The monthly index—based on a national survey which asks business owners how they expect their business to perform moving forward—inched up 0.3 points this month, to 57.2 (out of 100).

“Concerns about wage costs, taxes and regulations continue to be top of mind when business owners are asked about their costs and constraints of doing business,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB Chief Economist. “The end result remains a pretty sour picture across the country, with most provincial indexes clustered around the 55 mark.”

In Eastern Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador saw optimism ebb in October, dropping to 48.3 — now the lowest mark in the country. After being among the most optimistic provinces in the country, Prince Edward Island continued a significant confidence loss, dropping to 53.6 and falling below the national average for the first time since April. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick saw small drops to 62.5 and 56.3, respectively.

Quebec’s confidence cooled again, but its 67.6 confidence marker remains best in the country. Ontario saw a sliver of improvement, gaining a half point to 55.5, while Manitoba saw a small drop to the same 55.5 score.

And in the west, Saskatchewan’s optimism climbed to 52.7, Alberta’s index saw a slight downward correction to 55.2, and British Columbia improved to 61.9.

As far as optimism by industry sector, there are a few bright spots: sentiment improved in the agriculture, resources and retail sectors. For the remainder though—with the exception of professional services—optimism declined this month.

“Other businesses indicators are continuing to lag: in particular, full-time hiring plans have tilted negative and only half of business owners are expecting to make capital investment plans in the next few months—low by historical standards,” added Mallett.

October 2017 findings are based on 727 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through October 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent, 19 times in 20.

On a scale between 0 and 100, an index above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. One normally sees an index level of between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential.

Read the October Business Barometer®.

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:

Andy Radia, Media Relations Specialist, CFIB

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses, with 109,000 members across every sector and region.