The southern Alberta business community has faced its share of adversity during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it’s still dealing with hurdles.
According to Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce CEO Cyndi Bester, inflation, employee shortages and a possible recession remain concerns.
“We have so many different types of raindrops hitting us right now, we’re just trying to manage through which ones and how do we prioritize,” Bester said. “Then how we work collectively to make it better.”
Data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shows a portion of Alberta businesses are struggling.
Its Small Business Recovery Dashboard shows 24 per cent of those businesses at risk of closure.
“Alberta has sort of trended between the 20 and 25 per cent closure (area) throughout the pandemic,” said Andrew Sennyah, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for Alberta.
The dashboard takes results from the CFIB’s Your Voice survey, with a margin of error of +/- 1.7 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
“We are hearing similar concerns,” Bester said.
“But when you address the long-term view for businesses, there is some optimism still.”
Results from the Brighter Together survey released in early 2022 showed 74 per cent of Lethbridge businesses felt positive about their overall health.
The chamber and Economic Development Lethbridge use the survey to gauge the local business climate.
Updated survey results will be unveiled at the chamber’s state of the city with mayor Blaine Hyggen on Jan. 19.
As for the short-term, Sennyah feels the next few months will be telling for the province’s small businesses, with advocates and business owners hoping the situation stabilizes in 2023.
“The government of Alberta has put in some affordability measures,” Sennyah said.
“We’re waiting to see what that means in the long-term and how that’ll affect small businesses as we head into the new year.”