The ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic and the ever-changing restrictions and guidelines have truly impacted small businesses across Canada.

According to a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), “half of small businesses across Canada report they have seen a further drop in sales as a result of fears of a second wave of COVID-19

The same survey reports that in some regions under new restrictions like Winnipeg and Toronto, that percentage can be as high as 70%.

However, according to Amelia Merrick, Lead Regional Business Liaison for Community Futures Fraser Fort George, pinpointing how small businesses around PG are doing is complicated.

“Different businesses have responded differently,” explained Merrick, “I spoke to a wedding planner yesterday and business is absolutely down and there is no way for her to work in the near future, however, other businesses are doing really well.”

According to Merrick, one of the most difficult things for small businesses is determining just how they are supposed to respond to the pandemic given the overwhelming amount of information out there.

Small business owners now have to calculate how to appropriately handle restrictions, as that can be a big determining factor in customer satisfaction.

“For example, if I’m a customer with asthma or I’m taking care of a senior family member and I don’t see people following social distancing guidelines, I won’t feel safe,” said Merrick, “and the problem is that the business might not just be losing me for today, they might be losing me for the next ten years.”

The pandemic is also causing some small business owners to take their work-related stress home with them.

“Another thing that we’ve found is that their mental health is stretched,” explained Merrick, “they don’t have any excess time to do things to care for themselves.”

According to Merrick, supporting local is more important than ever as it will have a positive, long term impact on the Prince George economy.

Research has shown that on average a local business will recycle its revenue into the local economy three times,” she noted.

“We really need people to ask themselves if they can buy their product locally,” Merrick explained, “it might cost extra but local business are often recycling the money because their staff are paying taxes here, their head office is paying property taxes here and they’re often sponsoring local organizations.”

Merrick and the team at Community Futures Fraser Fort George are welcoming small business owners to give their input and can be contacted here.

Survey results from monthly small business snapshot update (By Community Futures Fraser Fort George)

Survey results from monthly small business snapshot update (By Community Futures Fraser Fort George)