Downtown businesses trapped in spending deserts amid office closures: #SmallBusinessEveryDay Dashboard

Toronto, August 19, 2020 – While most small businesses are struggling with sales, COVID-19 has hit downtown cores particularly hard, with significantly fewer urban businesses back to making normal sales than rural businesses, finds new survey data on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard, part of its #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign.

Among businesses in large urban centres, 22 per cent report making normal sales for this time of year, compared to 37 per cent of businesses in rural areas.

“Typically, we wouldn’t expect to see businesses in urban centres struggling to find customers. But with downtown offices empty and international tourism dead, these businesses are really hurting and more at risk of permanent closure,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. 

Canada’s small business recovery has largely been stagnant over the summer. The latest national figures on the Small Business Recovery Dashboard reveal minimal changes since August 5:

  • 66 per cent are fully open (compared to 63 per cent two weeks ago)
  • 40 per cent are fully staffed (compared to 39 per cent two weeks ago)
  • 28 per cent are making normal sales (compared to 26 per cent two weeks ago)

CFIB’s #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign urges Canadians to go out and shop at their local independent businesses with fun challenges at This week, CFIB is issuing a special challenge aimed at supporting downtown businesses. The website also highlights the many other initiatives that support small business recovery, like Visa’s #MySmallBizReco, which encourages everyone to recommend their favourite small business on social media.

“Consumer spending is the key to survival for all businesses. This week we are encouraging Canadians in or near urban areas to make a special effort to order takeout or indulge in some retail therapy at downtown businesses. Choosing to buy at small businesses is the best thing we can do to move the needle on their recovery and the recovery of Canada’s economy as a whole right now,” added Jones.

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

Source for CFIB data
CFIB, preliminary results for Your Business and COVID-19 – Survey #19, online survey started August 13, 2020, n = 5,119. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of +/-1.4%, 19 times out of 20.

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, and Interac Corp. To find out more about being a media sponsor please contact