Kelowna survey says 50% of businesses will temporarily shut down because of coronavirus pandemic

Businesses in the Central Okanagan are facing calamitous times, according to a survey from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

On Friday, the chamber released the survey regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic and its effect on local businesses.

With just under 8,000 businesses taking part, the chamber said “the data paints a dire picture of what businesses are experiencing now and what they expect to be facing in the near future.”

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According to the survey:

  • 90 per cent of businesses are currently being impacted by COVID-19.
  • Of those impacted, 83 per cent are seeing a drop in revenue, business, or deal flow.
  • 91 per cent anticipate a further decrease in revenue in the near-term.
  • 73 per cent of businesses expect their revenues will drop by 50 per cent or more, with nearly a quarter saying revenues will drop by 100 per cent.
  • Half of the respondents say they will be temporarily shutting down their offices.
  • 64 per cent of respondents expect to reduce their staff by over half, with a quarter saying they will be reducing their staff by 100 per cent.

“Public health must be the primary concern during the early days of the pandemic,” said Jeffrey Robinson, acting president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

“We commend the federal and provincial governments for prioritizing the health and safety of its citizens above all else. We have also been reassured that government is strategically and thoughtfully looking at ways to mitigate impacts to businesses of all sizes and are working tirelessly to soften the economic impacts to British Columbians.”

The chamber said the survey revealed that self-employed and/or contract workers are gravely concerned, due to ineligibility for employment insurance.

The chamber added that the tourism industry and peripheral industries fear they will be particularly hard hit, stating that some survey respondents have already seen 90 per cent booking cancellations.

The survey also listed recommendations that government agencies could put in place to help ease financial pressures that businesses are facing.

  • Provide flexibility for tax remittance.
  • Extend the April 30 tax deadline.
  • Provide a 6 to 12-month holiday on paying the employer health tax.
  • Remove the PST for six months on every transaction or select purchases.
  • Work with municipalities to allow business to defer property tax payments.
  • Encourage financial institutions to provide zero interest loans, lines of credit and deferred payment terms.
  • Enhanced EI access and wage replacement options.
  • Provide funding for business to work remotely.

“Small Business B.C. stands with our community of entrepreneurs and their employees during this difficult time,” Tom Conway, the CEO of Small Business B.C.,” said in the survey.

“We will continue to advocate on their behalf to government and communities throughout British Columbia. Against the challenging backdrop of COVID-19, we must do everything we can to sustain their vital contribution to the provincial economy.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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