The long road ahead: Small business recovery extends to summer 2023, longer for hard hit sectors

Fewer than one in five businesses say they are fully recovered, one in 20 for some hard hit sectors

Toronto, August 4, 2021 – More than 80 per cent of small businesses have not fully recovered from the pandemic, with that share rising above 90 per cent for hard hit sectors like arts and recreation (95 per cent) and hospitality (96 per cent), finds the latest research from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). Businesses that have not recovered say it will take them an average of 23 months to get back to normal. 

“While we are starting to put the worst of the COVID storm behind us, for small businesses clean-up and recovery is its own daunting task,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. 

The survey asked small businesses to define what recovery means to them. The top answers include:

  • Being back to pre-pandemic sales (46 per cent)
  • No longer experiencing high stress and anxiety levels due to COVID-19 (45 per cent)
  • No longer experiencing pandemic related delays in supplies and shipping (44 per cent)
  • Being allowed to be fully open without restrictions (40 per cent)
  • Having paid off any debt incurred due to COVID-19 (39 per cent)
  • Being back to pre-pandemic staffing (27 per cent)
  • No longer worrying about having to close their business permanently (24 per cent)
  • Having established a set of “new normal” practices for employees and customers (23 per cent)

“Recovery means much more than getting back to normal sales and staffing—it’s also about paying down debt and processing the shock to our collective systems. Things are starting to look much more normal on the surface but there is still a long road ahead for many business owners who remain stressed out about the future,” said Simon Gaudreault, Vice-President of National Research at CFIB.

CFIB continues to encourage consumers to support local businesses through its #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign. It also urges governments to extend support measures until the economy, including Canada’s borders, has reopened fully.

“With a potential federal election on the horizon, it is crucial that all parties have a strong strategy for how they will support small businesses and the communities that rely on them through their recovery,” concluded Jones. “And, as consumers, we can all be part of the small-business recovery solution in small ways every day.” 

For media inquiries 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 95,000 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