With Phase Two of B.C.’s Reopening Plan well underway with June fast approaching, a survey has found that only one in four businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 feel able to restart and operate profitably as restrictions are lifted.
This survey was conducted by the BC Chamber of Commerce and is called the COVID-19 Impact Pulse Check #3 and received 1,343 responses from various business owners across the province. The results of the survey were sent to both the Federal and Provincial Governments and were used to author an Op-Ed in the Vancouver Sun.
The biggest challenges that face businesses looking to restart according to the survey respondents are as follows:
• Attracting customers or revenue (77 per cent)
• Having enough operating cash for expenses (49 per cent) or to meet safety standards (31 per cent)
• Bringing staff back (39 per cent)
• Government not allowing their business to open yet (31 per cent)
• Not yet prepared or able to meet safety guidelines (30 per cent)
When it came to how COVID-19 has impacted businesses specifically across the province 78 per cent of all companies reported a decreased sales volume while a quarter reported increased operating costs.
Combined together 93 per cent of companies reported either reducing staff hours of laying off employees with the breakdown being 45 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively. Likewise, 42 per cent of business reported still being closed temporarily while only one per cent reported being forced to close permanently.
In just the Cariboo 76 per cent of businesses surveyed, or 13 participants, reported decreased sales volumes while 41 per cent, seven, also cited increased operating costs. Meanwhile, 100 per cent of Cariboo businesses that partook in the survey reported having to reduce hours or lay off employees with 58 per cent of the businesses closed temporarily.
None of the Cariboo businesses surveyed reported hiring more employees, increasing their sales volumes or advancing new marketing projects. Indeed 59 per cent reported cancelling contracts or tenders, 41 per cent deferred or cancelled capital projects and 47 per cent deferred or cancelled marketing projects.
The study also showed that only 18 per cent of Cariboo businesses surveyed are receiving CEWS, the federal government’s emergency wage subsidy, while 47 per cent said they are not, while the remaining 36 per cent was split between maybe or don’t know. On the subject of paying rent for their business in full in April of 2020, 41 per cent of Cariboo businesses said yes, 41 per cent said it did not apply to them, 12 per cent said no and six per cent said they don’t know.
When asked if they qualify for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program 80 per cent of Cariboo business did not know if they were eligible.
As far as the reopening plan goes, Cariboo businesses feel largely pessimistic or neutral about the long-term outcome with 59 per cent saying they find it only somewhat helpful. When asked why they feel the reopening plan won’t be helpful and asked to select all that apply, 50 per cent said they feel the rollout will be to slow to reopen all the businesses impacted, 25 per cent felt the early phases are not broad enough, while 50 per cent felt the plan was not clear enough and did not provide the required cash flow to start.
A full 75 per cent feels this plan will not stimulate consumer demand and 25 per cent does not thing is addresses the current workforce challenges of bringing staff back into the workspace.