Number of businesses in Alberta fell by nearly five per cent during the first 10 months of the pandemic.
The seasonally adjusted number of active businesses in Alberta was 4.7 per cent lower (5,507 less businesses) in December 2020 than it was in February 2020 before the pandemic started, according to figures provided by the Alberta Treasury Branch.
Active businesses are those that reported having one or more employees in a given month.
“This is an alarming drop that has negatively affected thousands of business owners and their employees,” states the ATB.
The number of active businesses in Alberta has not contracted by this amount since 2016 when the province was in the second year of the worst recession in 30 years.
The question is: Will the number of active businesses fall even further before the pandemic and its ill effects are over?
Encouragingly, the ATB is reporting that, after large drops last spring, monthly gains were posted in June through December of 2020 — albeit not enough to make up for the ground lost earlier in the year.
Another encouraging factor is that the number of business incorporations that were tracked by the provincial Corporate Registry System were 30.3 per cent higher (adding 2,955 more businesses) over the first three months of 2021 than over the same period last year.
With the pandemic still in play and many businesses struggling beneath the accumulated weight of the damage done, the ATB warns of another possible spike in businesses closures.
“It’s also important to remember that while improvement in the net number of active businesses is a good sign overall, many businesses that were forced to close because of the pandemic will not reopen.”