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COVID-19 has changed how Canadians spend at small businesses: sales remain low


July 21, 2020
By Canadian Pizza

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Toronto – New data shows payment methods at small businesses have shifted away from cash toward electronic options like credit, debit and Interac e-Transfer.

Despite this shift, sales remain low for this time of year, according to the latest data on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s Small Business Recovery Dashboard, part of its #SmallBusinessEveryDay campaign.

Small business recovery ticked up slightly with 62 per cent of small businesses fully open (58 per cent last week), 37 per cent fully staffed (35 per cent last week) and 26 per cent making normal sales (24 per cent last week).

Additional data from Chase Merchant Services shows credit and debit card sales for Canadian small businesses are on average 25 per cent lower for March-June 2020 than the same time in 2019. Monthly credit and debit sales have improved since lows seen earlier this year in April when more businesses were closed (April was 40 per cent lower, May was 25 per cent lower and June was 15 per cent lower than in 2019).

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“While consumer spending through credit and debit seems to be improving, the broader picture shows that there has been a shift in payment methods and sales remain at perilous levels for many businesses,” said Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice-president at CFIB.

One in three small business owners report they have increased their use of credit cards and Interac e-transfer as a method of getting and making payments, and one in four have increased their use of debit cards, while 38 per cent have decreased their use of cash since the pandemic started and seven per cent have stopped using cash altogether.

“Things are slowly getting better, but small businesses depend on Canadians to choose local so the hardware store down the street, the independent pet shop, the mom and pop bakery can survive,” Pohlmann said.