Many businesses have temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19, but as owners get the green light to reopen some aren’t sure they’ll be able to afford it. (Black Press Media files)

Low profits, few customers in post-pandemic recovery says B.C. business survey

About 43 per cent of businesses say they think they will need government incentives to continue operating

A survey of British Columbia businesses finds barely one quarter believe they can open and operate profitably as the province gradually eases COVID-19 restrictions.

More than 1,300 member businesses of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the BC Chamber of Commerce and the Business Council of British Columbia were asked about the second phase of B.C.’s restart plan.

A statement from the board of trade says 26 per cent expect to open and operate at a profit while 75 per cent worry about attracting customers.

Other concerns include a lack of cash to meet expenses or new safety standards and the board says 55 per cent also believe restarting their business will take at least two months.

But owners now report an average of just 12 layoffs, down from 43 in mid-March, and the board says that likely shows the effect of wage subsidy programs.

About 43 per cent of businesses say they think they will need government incentives to continue operating.

Val Litwin, president and CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce says despite the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the crisis is not over for businesses across the province.

“Policy-makers must appreciate that business models will be very fragile during this early stage of the recovery cycle and that ongoing supports will be essential,” he says in the statement.

Nearly 400,000 B.C. workers have lost their jobs since the pandemic hit, says Greg D’Avignon, president and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia.

He is calling on the federal and provincial governments to address tax, regulatory and process costs.

The survey is the third in a series conducted by the Mustel Group on behalf of B.C.’s major business organizations since COVID-19 forced closure of many sectors of the provincial economy two months ago.

The Canadian Press

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