Small business faces unsustainable L-shaped recovery if sales remain at a crawl

Politicians can help by promoting #SmallBusinessEveryDay movement 

Toronto, September 22, 2020 – If recovery maintains its current glacial pace, it will take small businesses a year and five months to return to normal sales, with the hospitality sector taking more than eight years, warns the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) in its latest Small Business Recovery Dashboard feature. CFIB looked at the pace of revenue recovery between June, when many businesses were open again but only 17 per cent had normal sales, and the latest September survey results, which showed only modest improvement with 30 per cent of all businesses making normal sales. Assuming revenues keep returning to normal at that same pace, it will be years before most businesses report normal revenues again. 

“This underscores the need to kick the recovery into a higher gear. The current situation just isn’t sustainable for too many businesses,” said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. “One simple thing every politician in the country can do right now is talk about the importance of supporting small business. Many have participated in the #SmallBusinessEveryDay movement already. Our survey results show small businesses want and need this kind of leadership.”  

According to CFIB’s regular update of its Small Business Recovery Dashboard: 

  • 70 per cent of small businesses are now fully open (64 per cent two weeks ago) 
  • 42 per cent are fully staffed (41 per cent two weeks ago)
  • 30 per cent are making normal sales (28 per cent two weeks ago)
  Time to reach 100% of businesses at normal revenues (at current constant pace)
Hospitality (E.g. restaurants, hotels) 8 years 3 months
Enterprise & Administration Management (E.g. staffing agencies, building management) 5 years 4 months
Professional Services (E.g. law firms, accounting) 2 years 7 months
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate & Leasing 2 years 2 months
Natural Resources 2 years 
Construction 1 year 10 months
Personal, Miscellaneous Services (E.g. dry cleaners, mechanics) 1 year 6 months
Retail 1 year 5 months
Average for all sectors 1 year 5 months
Manufacturing 1 year 2 months
Arts, Recreation & Information (E.g. golf courses, gyms) 1 year 1 month
Agriculture 10 months
Wholesale 10 months
Social Services (E.g. dentists, chiropractors) 9 months
Transportation 9 months

CFIB’s #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign encourages consumers to support independent businesses by taking small but meaningful actions every day. It currently profiles 61 shop local initiatives across the country at, including:

  • Points for Canada, which has been extended into the fall and awards card-holders 2x the RBC Rewards points at local restaurants and retailers
  • Canada United, which is offering relief grants of up to $5,000 to small business owners
  • Snapd’s Business Recovery Grant Program, which provides marketing grants valued between $500 and $25,000

“There is no economic recovery without small business recovery. We want small business owners to know they’re not alone: there is a movement growing around them to support and encourage them and hopefully shorten the journey back to more normal sales,” concluded Simon Gaudreault, Senior Director of National Research at CFIB.

Read CFIB’s research snapshot “Are Canadian small businesses headed for an L-shaped recovery?” for more details.

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

Recovery spans for each sector are calculated by using the share of businesses that are already at normal revenues as of mid-September as a starting point, then applying the progress rate registered for each sector between June and September, in a linear forward fashion, until most businesses can reach normal revenues again.


  • CFIB, final results for Your Business and COVID-19 – Survey #12, results from June 6 to June 11, 2020, n = 5,961. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of +/-1.3%, 19 times out of 20.
  • CFIB, preliminary results for Your Business and COVID-19 – Survey #20, results from September 10 to September 14, 2020, n = 1,807. For comparison purposes, a probability sample with the same number of respondents would have a margin of error of +/-2.3%, 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 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