Small biz owners brace for COVID-19 impact

By Laura Keil


Small business owners are expecting a dramatic blow to business in light of government edicts to stay home and in some cases, shut their doors altogether.

Last week, BC’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told all “personal service establishments” to close, which includes hair salons, beauty parlours, massage clinics, tattoo parlours, and spas. Restaurants were also ordered to close seating areas and offer take-out only.

On Monday, both the Prime Minister and the BC Premier doubled-down on their message for people to “stay home,” providing more uncertainty to many business owners.

Over 200 Fraser Health doctors endorsed a letter sent March 21st to Henry, urging her to close all non-essential businesses. Ontario and Quebec made the decision to close all non-essential businesses March 23rd after a spike in cases.

Many businesses in McBride and Valemount have already made the decision to close.

  • A survey of 8,000 BC businesses commissioned by the BC Chamber of Commerce, BC Economic Development Association, and Community Futures BC, and Small Business BC, paints a grim picture of what business owners are already experiencing in light of COVID-19 restrictions.
  • 90% of businesses are “currently being impacted by COVID-19” ( 75% seeing a significant negative impact)
  • 58% of respondents are seeing a “decrease in demand for products and services”
  • 91% anticipate a further “decrease in revenue in the near term”
  • 73% of businesses expect their revenues will drop by 50% or more (with nearly a quarter saying revenues will drop by 100%)
  • 64% of respondents expect to reduce their staff levels by over half (with a quarter saying they will be reducing their staff by 100%)

James Blackwell, a communications person with Small Business BC, says they are encouraging businesses that are allowed to stay open to be creative and “pivot” their business model, such as offering home delivery for products.

Small Business BC has been posting daily updates on their website including summaries of government assistance for business owners and links to financing options.

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