Ontario's downtown businesses trapped in spending deserts amid office closures: #SmallBusinessEveryDay Dashboard

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

Among Ontario businesses in large urban centres, only 20 per cent report making normal sales for this time of year, compared to 38 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. 

Small business recovery has been largely stagnant over the summer. The latest figures for Ontario on the Small Business Recovery Dashboard reveal minimal changes since August 5:

  • 62 per cent are fully open (compared to 57 per cent two weeks ago)
  • 38 per cent are fully staffed (compared to 37 per cent two weeks ago)
  • 26 per cent are making normal sales (compared to 23 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 smallbusinesseveryday.ca. 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 business survival during these challenging times for our economy,” said Julie Kwiecinski, Director of Provincial Affairs, Ontario at CFIB. “This week, we are encouraging urban Ontarians to shop at downtown small businesses where foot traffic is light. For example, small businesses near or in large office towers are particularly starved for revenues because their usual customers are working from home.”

For media inquiries 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, including 42,000 in Ontario. 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 cfib.ca.

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 marketing@cfib.ca.