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No new cheer for small business sector this holiday season

Economist says business owners can’t afford to think too far into the future right now, especially with new restrictions on business activities.

November 26, 2020   by PLANT STAFF

TORONTO — Small business sentiment continues to be reserved, rising about two index points to 55.7, well below levels recorded over the summer, according to the November Business Barometer by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The three-month outlook remained considerably lower at 35.2 index points.

“Business owners can’t afford to think too far into the future right now, especially with new restrictions on business activities cropping up in different regions across the country,” said Ted Mallett, CFIB’s chief economist. “They’re still operating on 70% capacity on average, which hasn’t improved at all since the summer.”

Manufacturing registered slightly higher at 56.7, down 0.8 from October. The three-month outlook is ahead of the national average at 41.7, but still bleak. Business health is good for 31%, but bad for 24%.

Plants are running at an average of 70%. As for hiring over the next three months, 16% of manufacturers will do so, while 22% will be cutting staff.

Business owners in PEI (42.0) and Quebec (44.3) were the least optimistic, followed by those in Newfoundland and Labrador (46.6) and Alberta (48.9). Businesses in BC (62.0), Ontario (60.3) and Saskatchewan (59.0) had the best outlooks, compared to the rest of the country. New Brunswick (52.3), Manitoba (52.7) and Nova Scotia (57.4) businesses posted results within a few index points of the national average.

An index level nearer to 65 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential.

November 2020 findings are based on 984 responses received from Nov. 2 to 16. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.1% 19 times in 20.

 

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