Business Barometer®: Small business confidence takes another step back in July

Small business optimism declines to 56.1; 43 per cent of business owners still feel good about the state of their business health

VANCOUVER, July 26, 2018 – Small business optimism in British Columbia declined 2.7 points in July to hit 56.1, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Business Barometer.

Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index level above 50 means owners expecting their business’ performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance. An index level of between 65 and 75 means that the economy is growing at its potential.

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The number of business owners who report their state of business health as ‘good’ dropped 3 points to 43 per cent, those who report their business health as ‘satisfactory’ increased 3 points to 50 per cent, and those who report their business health as ‘bad’ remained at just 7 per cent.

“The business barometer in British Columbia has remained below the national average for three months now,” said Muriel Protzer, Policy Analyst, BC and Alberta. “While this month is certainly a step back, much can be done to help improve business confidence in the province. It’s not too late for government at all levels to examine taxes and policies through the lens of local business.”

Currently, the biggest limitation on sales or production growth for small and medium-sized businesses is the shortage of skilled labour, a top concern for 48 per cent of business owners. Other concerns are management skills and time restraints, and insufficient domestic demand for products, at 48 and 26 per cent respectively.

Business owners are also feeling pressure on their bottom-line: 63 per cent are concerned with the cost of taxes and regulatory costs, 52 per cent with wage costs, and 44 per cent with the cost of fuel and energy.

The national Business Barometer index for July was 56.8, down 5.4 points from June. The other provincial numbers were: Prince Edward Island (73.1), Quebec (69.5), Nova Scotia (65), Manitoba (60.1), Ontario (56.3), Alberta (55.8), New Brunswick (55.3), Newfoundland and Labrador (52.9), and Saskatchewan (50). 

The July 2018 findings are based on 736 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflects responses received through to July 18, 2018. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

To arrange an interview with Muriel Protzer about the BC results, please call 604-684-5325 or email after 8:30 AM PST.  To interview Chief Economist, Ted Mallett, about the national results, please call 416-222-8022. For more information, visit

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in B.C.