Pandemic threatens to deepen divide between big and small businesses

Canadians planning to spend majority of their holiday budgets at big businesses; #SmallBusinessEveryDay movement encourages conscious consumerism

Toronto, October 21, 2020 – While big businesses, like Amazon, are reporting significantly larger revenues compared to last year, small retailers are falling further behind, with the majority (62 per cent) still below normal revenues, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In light of Small Business Week this week, CFIB urges Canadians to shop consciously by choosing local, independent businesses every time they can.

“Most of us don’t think too much about where we shop—if we can get everything we need with a few clicks or if we assume a big box store carries the best value, we may overlook the hundreds of small businesses around us that offer fantastic products and services while creating jobs and giving back to our communities,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. “When we choose to shop local, we choose to keep the money we spend in our economy, to support Canadian jobs and to invest in the businesses that make our communities vibrant. It’s a choice we can all feel good about.”

Holiday shopping may deepen the divide between small businesses and large retailers 
Nine in 10 small businesses say the dominance of big businesses selling online, such as Amazon, threatens Canadian small businesses. This situation may worsen during the lead up to the holidays, as Canadians are planning to spend two thirds of their holiday budgets at big businesses, according to new public opinion research conducted by Maru/Matchbox. 

“Small and big businesses didn’t enter the pandemic on a level playing field and things have only gotten worse. During lockdowns, big box stores like Costco and Walmart were allowed to remain open and sell all kinds of goods because they have grocery sections, while many small businesses were shut down. Small businesses really need a good holiday season to even things out,” added Dan Kelly, President at CFIB. 

CFIB estimates that one in seven independent retailers is at risk of closing before the end of the pandemic. 

Be a conscious consumer
Consumers can help small businesses recover by being thoughtful about where they shop and choosing independent businesses as often as possible, including finding them online. 

Earlier this week, CFIB launched the Big Thank You contest* as part of #SmallBusinessEveryDay to make it fun for Canadians to support small business through the holiday season. Consumers can enter to win one of six Big Thank You boxes that include $500 cash to spend at a local business and unique products from across Canada, like an olive oil sampler pack from All Things Olive in Nova-Scotia and a cuffed beanie from NWT Brewing Co. in the Northwest Territories. The contest is sponsored by eBay Canada, Scotiabank and Mastercard. More information is available at

“Conscious consumerism is about empowering our spending to make a difference in our communities, to support our local economies, to align with our values, and to celebrate the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who own and operate a small business,” concluded Jones.

For more details, read the full Conscious Consumerism: Choosing to Shop Small during the Pandemic document. This is the second in the Transformation of Canada’s Small Businesses series of reports CFIB will release this fall.

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

Public opinion data: 
The survey was conducted by Maru/Matchbox from September 25 to September 27, 2020, based on a sample of n=1,511 Canadians. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size yields a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, nineteen times out of twenty.

CFIB data: 
This release presents findings from CFIB’s regular “Your business and Covid-19” surveys, which have been completed online by small businesses across Canada since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency on a regular basis. 

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 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

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open October 19, 2020 at 7:00 am ET to November 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm ET to legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence. Six weekly prizes available each consisting of: one giftbox for winner (approx. value $1290 CDN each) and one giftbox for nominated independent Canadian business (approx. value $3650 CDN each). The number of weekly prizes will diminish as awarded each week during the contest period. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received in applicable week. Math skill test and internet access required. Rules: