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[OTTAWA] — [January 29, 2024] — The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Business Data Lab (BDL) released its latest report today, highlighting the new reality for small businesses in Canada’s post-pandemic retail landscape, which has been beset by shifting consumer behaviours.
The report, entitled, A Portrait of Small Business in Canada: Adaption, Agility, All At Once, explores the integral role small businesses play in Canada’s economy and sheds light on how these businesses can thrive despite major economic forces working against them — including the rising cost of doing business, the highest borrowing costs in over two decades and increased pandemic debt loads.
While 98 per cent of Canadian businesses qualify as small businesses, the report goes further in illustrating that micro firms are by far the most common businesses type in Canada, with the median firm having fewer than five employees. This underscores the importance of improving our understanding of the business realities of all small firms, but especially micro firms, while ensuring that adequate financial, operational and regulatory support measures boost the resilience of small and micro businesses for the sake of Canada’s economy. Put simply, the survival of micro firms is a macroeconomic issue for Canada.
The report also explores the unique realities, challenges and opportunities for small businesses owned by women, persons with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ2s+ community, immigrants to Canada, Indigenous peoples and visible minorities.
Small businesses aren’t small – they make up 98% of all of Canada’s businesses, and this report underlines their importance to strengthening our economy. This report also gives us invaluable insight into the unique realities, challenges and opportunities for small businesses owned by women, persons with disabilities, members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, immigrants to Canada, Indigenous peoples andvisible minorities. Thank you to the Chamber for conducting this important study. This is the type of actionable data we need to strategically support small businesses across the country.
The Honourable, Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business
While economic and technological shocks will always be a constant feature of our world, small businesses will need to continue adapting and innovating to stay competitive and satisfy consumer preferences.
The report highlights that both those who run businesses and policymakers need to carefully consider new strategies if we’re going to strengthen small business in Canada. And for its part, government will need to be agile in providing more tailored, strategic and innovative ways to support small business. Small businesses need funding, but they also need resources to help manage costs, innovate, grow, and get exposure to new customers and markets by developing their online visibility, building their reputations, and leveraging accurate and engaging digital information.”
Marwa Abdou, Senior Research Director, Canadian Chamber Business Data Lab and author of the report The report shows how small businesses of all sizes, ages and industries are already investing in technology to better access data and applications from their computers, tablets or mobile phones — whether in the office or on the road — to connect better with their customers and employees. However,
as the report points out, a business’s size is important to its ability to not only adopt technology, but also take advantage of a variety of technology tools. The report finds that even more change is essential.
It also highlights trends to help small businesses adapt to how Canadian shoppers have evolved. While online shopping accelerated as a result of the pandemic, roughly 75% of Canadian shoppers still visit physical stores for key items like groceries, clothing, automotive, electronics, home and garden, and health products. To meet consumer preferences, businesses need to implement on and offline sales
strategies to reach customers.
This report provides yet another signal that we need to focus on supporting growth, especially among
small businesses. We can start by reducing red tape, investing in infrastructure, and enabling an innovation economy. These fundamentals of growth will increase Canadian businesses’ ability to compete and attract investment that will benefit Canadians, their families, and our communities.
Perrin Beatty, President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Highlights from the report
About the Canadian Chamber of Commerce — The Future of Business Success
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is Canada’s largest and most activated business network — representing over 400 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 200,000 business of all sizes, from all sectors of the economy and from every part of the country — to create the conditions for our collective success. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is the undisputed champion and catalyst for the future of business success. From working with government on economy-friendly policy to providing services that inform commerce and enable trade, we give each of our members more of what they need to succeed: insight into markets, competitors and trends, influence over the decisions and policies that drive business success and impact on business and economic performance.
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Senior Director, Corporate Communications and PR
Canadian Chamber of Commerce