A large number of small businesses in Canada have seen a drop in sales amid an ongoing labour shortage and a deadly pandemic, a recently released survey report suggests.
According to new data from a Payments Canada study, 43 per cent of small businesses surveyed indicated that sales had worsened since the onset of COVID-19 and 35 per cent suggested that managing margins and profit had been adversely impacted.
The survey — called Payments Behaviour Tracker – Business survey Wave 2, 2021 — examines trends, sentiment and outlook for Canadian small businesses with total revenue of less than $10 million which accounts for 98 per cent of all businesses in the country, according to Payments Canada, which says the data is based on interviews conducted in July and August 2021 through Leger’s online panel with 500 businesses.
“It has been a challenging time for many small to midsize businesses, which are critical to Canada’s economic well-being as the backbone of our economy,” Payments Canada’s chief strategy officer, Cyrielle Chiron, said in a press release, adding. “Profit margins, sales, recruitment, and cash flow are just some of the headwinds that businesses have had to navigate, demonstrating incredible resilience in adapting to shifting market dynamics resulting from the pandemic.”
The survey also found that 35 per cent of businesses indicated that employee recruitment challenges have worsened and 26 per cent stated that currency fluctuations and foreign exchange risks had created greater challenges since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
However, despite the negative impacts from COVID-19 and gloomy results, the survey suggests found some positives. It found that 42 per cent of small businesses surveyed indicated that they believe the Canadian economy will be in better shape 12 months from now, 43 per cent of small businesses plan to improve efficiency and 58 per cent report being more aware of how to protect themselves against payment fraud scams.
“Looking to the future, new data indicates a renewed level of optimism. Many businesses are planning to reinvest and expand, leveraging payment innovation to support this growth. Businesses also have increased confidence in managing fraud and cyber scam attempts, which accelerated through the pandemic as the world became ever more digital. These are encouraging indicators for the Canadian economy.”
Moving forward, the survey suggests that many more small businesses are aware of wireless and online payments and their growing popularity. The survey says 47 per cent of small businesses believe that customers now prefer to make payments using contactless cards, tapping debit or credit cards on a payment terminal while 43 per cent of small businesses believe customers prefer to make purchases using online payment methods.
Payments Canada describes itself as a “public purpose organization” that owns and operates payment systems, Lynx and the Automated Clearing and Settlement System (ACSS).