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Business Barometer, December 2021

December 2021 SME business outlook

Canada's small businesses show mixed signals of optimism in December. The short-term confidence dropped a few points in December; while the long-term confidence hasn't moved much. 

CFIB's Business Barometer® Short-term Index, which is based on 3-month forward expectations for business performance, decreased 4.6 points to 45.1. The long-term optimism index which is based on 12-month outlook remained almost unchanged since November at 62.6.  

Measured on a scale between 0 and 100, an index above 50 means owners expecting their business’s performance to be stronger in the next year outnumber those expecting weaker performance.

The provincial outlook over the short-term is on a sliding slope, with the exception of NS and AB where it showed timid signs of improvement. Optimism over the long-term is mixed: four provinces are posting increased confidence (NS, ON, BC, and AB); almost no change in NL; and the remaining five provinces are showing signs of deterioration. 

Sectoral outlooks over the short-term are mitigated, with most sectors seeing minor gains while a few are indicating major decreases in confidence. Optimism in the retail sector plummeted sharply and it reached levels seen at the same time last year or early 2021. Long-term confidence seems a bit stronger especially in the finance & insurance, and professional services sectors. 

Among the other business indicators, most are lukewarm such as full-time employment plans or the state of business health. However, the planned price increase for the next year has reached another all-times high at 4.6%. Wage increases have stabilized at 3.0% in December.  

The top major cost constraints are fuel and energy prices, insurance, and wage costs.  



Andreea Bourgeois, Director of Economics, [email protected]
Simon Gaudreault, Vice-President, national research, [email protected]


December 22, 2021

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Topics in this Article: Economic Indicators