The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates up to 25 per cent of small business could have to close as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Pandemic taking its toll on small businesses

Local small businesses are carrying a big burden as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on.

According to a study by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, approximately 19 per cent of Alberta small businesses are at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic.

At the high end, the study says that number could be closer to 25 per cent, or 42,159 small or medium-sized businesses.

“Small businesses are big players in our economy, so minimizing business losses is critical to recovery,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president at the CFIB.

“Right now, both government support and consumer behaviour are critical to transitioning back to conditions that allow businesses to survive and thrive.”

Across the country, the CFIB estimates nearly 150,000 small businesses could be at risk of shutting their doors, not including ones that have already closed.

Alberta has the highest risk in the country.

Amanda Gould, executive director of Red Deer’s Downtown Business Association, said the group hasn’t heard of any businesses closing recently, but added a few haven’t reopened since the height of the pandemic.

She said they’ve been encouraged by a few new businesses that have opened during the pandemic.

“The past few months have taken their toll, and the businesses that have come through the worst of it do need more support than ever. Shopping local is key to their survival,” said Gould.

The CFIB estimates that only 62 per cent of small businesses are fully open.

The Alberta government has tried to help small businesses. Starting in late June, eligible small and medium-sized businesses, co-ops and non-profits could apply for funding so they can open their doors and get Albertans back to work.

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