-Insights West release

65% of small business owners are ‘very worried’ about the negative financial impact overall—and specifically revenue (66%), financing (41%), ability to pay salaries (43%) and difficulty paying their rent/lease (38%)
Only 55% think the emergency Federal aid will be effective

Vancouver, BC —In one of the largest surveys of its kind, a new Insights West poll conducted this week with 580 small business owners across BC shows a very high level of worry about the negative financial impact on their business with huge impacts on revenue, financing, layoffs as well as their personal financial situation. While most think the crisis is a temporary three to four month event, about a third of businesses are not sure they will survive the fallout of this crisis.

Nearly all (93%) small business owners are worried about the negative financial impact of COVID 19 on their business—with the majority (65%) being ‘very worried’, and a further 28% being ‘somewhat worried’. Only a small group of 7% are not worried about a negative financial impact. The crisis has shut down 43% of small businesses, and a further 27% are operating—but are having difficulties. Another 23% are operating a little differently but are still up and going, while only 8% say it’s business as usual.

There are differing opinions as to how long this crisis will last—only 21% think we will be back to normal within 60 days, with a similar number (21%) feeling it will be 90 days, and 20% thinking it will take 6 months.

The negative impact on multiple aspects of business is felt by the majority of those we surveyed. Two-thirds (66%) says there will be a large negative impact on revenue in the next 60 days, and a similarly large number (58%) says that large negative financial impact will last through the remainder of the year. Just under one-half (41%) say this will have a large negative impact on the financing of their business, and the ability to pay salaries (43%) while just over a third (36%) say the same about the impact on their debt levels. A further 38% will have difficulty paying their rent or lease and nearly a third say there is a large negative impact on staffing and layoffs.

More than half (58%) of small business owners say this crisis will likely result in them closing their business temporarily (43% definitely vs.15% probably). More alarming is that 31% of owners think that this crisis might or might not force them to shut down their business permanently, and 9% say that it will definitely or probably force them to close for good. Even the more optimistic once still fear the possibility—as only 32% say they will definitely keep their business open, while 28% say it will probably not result in them shutting down their operations. On a similar vein, 7% of businesses surveyed say this will force them to declare bankruptcy, while almost one-quarter (23%) say it might or it might not force them down this path.

The measures that the Federal government have undertaken to support small business owners is viewed somewhat sceptically—as just over half (55%) say the emergency aid package will be effective in addressing the financial needs of their business (and of these—most feel it is only ‘somewhat effective’ (49%) vs. ‘very effective’ (6%). One half of the survey results were completed before the 75% Federal wage subsidy was announced, but our analysis shows that didn’t impact opinions on either side.

The negative financial impact at a household level has impacted small business owners to a larger degree than the general public who is on T4 income. A total of 70% are concerned about their ability to pay their personal rent or their mortgage—including 41% who are ‘very concerned’, and this number is significantly higher than the 49% of the general population that we surveyed last week. The same differential applies to being able to pay household expenses—where 73% (vs 54% for the rest of BC residents) of small business owners express concern (42% ‘very concerned’ 31% ‘somewhat concerned’). And over one-half (57%) are concerned about their ability to pay for household meals (vs 49% for the rest of BC residents). Both small business owners as well as the rest of BC residents are concerned about the effect on their savings with 81% of small business owners and 75% of residents reporting that they are concerned with the negative impact on their savings/TFSA’s/RRSP’s, with about the same numbers believing that this impact will continue to have a negative effect a few years from now.


“As the implications for the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, small business owners have been thrust into the spotlight at a provincial and federal level because of the serious negative financial impact that this is having on this particular segment of society” says Steve Mossop, president of Insights West. “Our poll measured the extent of the negative impact and it appears to be as bad or worse than what we’d anticipated. The disastrous financial effect is being felt deeply at a personal as well as a business level among small business owners, and it’s likely to result in an unprecedented level of possible permanent closures unfortunately.”

About Insights West:

Insights West is a full-service marketing research firm based in Western Canada. Since 2012, the company has conducted over one million surveys, executed 2,000 studies, and issued over 350 press releases on a variety of topics, correctly predicting the outcomes of 24 out of 25 elections and plebiscites. Insights West is a team of passionate, truth-seeking researchers who question everything to uncover the truth and what is emerging for a diverse set of clients. With an understanding of shifting markets, consumer and societal trends, and commitment to uncovering truths through a proprietary toolkit and innovative research approaches, Insights West helps organizations make better decisions.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from March 24, 2020 to March 31, 2020 among a sample of 580 small business owners in BC. Completes were achieved via reaching out to business owners in our Insights West Feedback Community as well as extensive promotion on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as promotion to our vast network of contacts. The sample was weighted by business size as defined by number of employees according to data provided by BC Stats from their 2019 Small Business Profile report.”
The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 4.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding. Click HERE to view the detailed data tabulations.