Only one-quarter of Sask. small businesses have seen sales return to pre-pandemic levels

Marilyn Braun-Pollon, vice-president, Western Canada and Agri-Business, Canadian Federation of Independent Business -- submitted photo.

While provinces across Canada are  allowing some businesses to gradually reopen, a new survey says sales are still lagging for many open businesses.

According to a press release from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), 44 per cent of Canada’s small businesses and 51 per cent of small businesses in Saskatchewan are now fully open.

Only 15 per cent of firms, though, report that their sales have returned to normal.

Saskatchewan businesses have fared the best, with 25 per cent experiencing normal sales. Newfoundland lags, with 24 per cent open and only five per cent seeing normal sales.

“There are definite signs that economies are awakening, with more than half of small businesses reporting they are fully open in some provinces,” said CFIB president Dan Kelly. “However, for many, recovery is another question as just opening your doors does not guarantee your customers will return. I am deeply worried about the future of businesses in sectors like transportation, health and social services, arts and recreation and restaurants/hospitality as fewer than one in 10 of these firms have sales at or near normal. Our main street businesses will need a lot more support, both from government and from consumers, before the crisis is behind them.”

In a sector-by-sector breakdown, the highest percentages of business open are in the agriculture and construction field at 73 per cent across Canada.

The sectors doing the best sales are agriculture, finance/insurance/real estate, professional services (such as law firms) and retail, with 36 per cent, 27 per cent, 26 per cent and 22 per cent seeing normal sales respectively.

“With Phase 3 of (Saskatchewan’s) re-opening plan beginning (Monday) many other businesses are now able to re-open including restaurants and bars at half capacity, fitness facilities, as well as other personal service businesses which could not open in Phase 2,” added Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president, Western Canada and Agri-business.

 “It is still essential for customers to support their local businesses to help them fully recover in the weeks ahead.”

The CFIB didn’t provide a sample size or margin of error in its press release.

In a separate press release, the Saskatchewan Realtors Association said they were pleasantly surprised by province wide numbers.

In Prince Albert, for instance, sales were up 2.8 per cent in the city and three per cent in the overall region in May. So far this year, sales are only down 5.6 per cent in the city, and 14.4 per cent in the region.