As we inch closer towards fall, Canadian small businesses are still seeing fewer customers walk through the doors, with 58 per cent of them reporting less foot traffic as opposed to this time last year.
At Sourdough Bakery on Ellice Avenue, business has been steady after the shop reopened their doors to in-person pick-up at the beginning of July.
“At the end of March, all of the staff were laid off and were therefore able to collect CERB and survive,” said the bakery’s owner, Cora Wiens.
After reopening in April for delivery and call-in orders only, staff members at the bakery have used the usual business period as a learning opportunity.
“When we shut down for COVID, we reduced our menu, and so we took a couple things off the menu and in doing that, we realized how much of our labour they were sucking up,” said Wiens.
Earlier this week, the bakery created a go-fund-me page looking to secure $5,000 for new machinery. In just two days, they’ve already raised over $3,500.
“The new equipment will help us be able to get through things really quickly. It won’t be as physically labor-intensive, so that way we can experiment with new flavours and new products as a whole,” explained Tamika Krush, who’s been working at the bakery for nearly two years.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says many small enterprises are finding innovative ways to press on, while working towards a new normal.
“A lot of businesses are adapting or finding new ways to do business, they’re taking things online, they’re finding new markets,” said Jonathan Alward, the Prairie region’s director of provincial affairs for the CFIB.
“There’s still many hurdles, there’s still a long way from fully recovered but I think we’re going to have to shift our focus going forward to making sure businesses have all those tools they need to be able to adapt and thrive,” Alward said.
As of Sept. 3, nearly half of Manitoba’s small businesses have returned to being fully staffed, with 41 per cent reporting normal sales, according to the CFIB.