Small business confidence riding high in Alberta: CFIB report

After a gruelling 18 months of trying to stay in business, finally being able to fully reopen in July has been a game-changer for Edmonton-based Laser City.

“July has been pretty busy. A lot of our summer camps have been completely sold out, which has been awesome — drops-ins, some of those missed birthday parties,” Laser City co-owner Rob Davy said.

According to a recent survey released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, confidence among many small businesses in Alberta is the highest it’s been since November 2014.

“We’re pretty confident at this point. We’re pretty sure that, knock on wood, the end is in sight. We are on the tail end of this,” Davy said.

“The numbers that we’re seeing in July are a huge improvement over the numbers that we’ve seen throughout the entire pandemic,” CFIB senior policy analyst Keyli Kosiorek said.

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The CFIB said the rise in confidence coincides with higher vaccination rates and the province opening its economy.

“If we look at activities at restaurants in Alberta, we’re back at the highest level right now since the start of the pandemic. Same when we track real-time indicators in terms of activities in retail stores,” Alberta Central chief economist Charles St-Arnaud said.

St-Arnaud said it’s not just businesses showing confidence — so are consumers.

“Customers are coming back and the ones that are coming now are super excited,” Davy said.

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St-Arnaud said if this trend continues, Alberta should expect job gains in the coming months.

“It bodes well for growth. It will also bode well for rehiring. We know that in this province, we have one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada,” St-Arnaud said.

Davy said confidence is the key to survival.

“If you weren’t confident, I don’t know you’d be able to survive. You have to keep up hope and faith that it’s going to be OK. We think it’s going to be OK within the next year or so,” Davy said.