The number of Alberta businesses increased for the ninth month in a row ending February although still trails pre-pandemic levels.
While still down 2.1 per cent (2,524 businesses) from pre-pandemic levels, the 1.6 per cent growth in businesses in February was a positive sign.
The pandemic hit the business community hard. In May 2020, 106,492 businesses were operating, down 9.5 per cent from before the pandemic, says ATB in its The Owl economic overview.
“The third wave of the pandemic may have disrupted progress on this front during March, April and May, but the reopening of the economy over the summer should enable the upward trend to continue,” says ATB.
“It’s important to stress that the upswing, while encouraging, does not mean that all is well in Alberta’s business sector,” says ATB, adding that the number of businesses operating was declining even before the pandemic. That decline was sped up as a result of COVID-19’s economic impact.
“These (pandemic) closures are over and above what normally would have taken place and translate into more economic pain for owners, employees, investors and suppliers than would have happened otherwise.”
As well, many businesses that have not shut their doors have been severely strained by the pandemic and remain vulnerable.
“On the bright side, new businesses are being created and Alberta has a strong economic foundation to support them.”