More than 80 per cent of small businesses have not fully recovered from the pandemic, according to new research from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The situation is even worse for hard hit sectors like arts and recreation where 95 per cent have not recovered and hospitality (96 per cent). Businesses that have not recovered say it will take them an average of 23 months to get back to normal, the CFIB’s survey found. 

"While we are starting to put the worst of the COVID storm behind us, for small businesses clean-up and recovery is its own daunting task," says Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President at CFIB. 

In its survey, the CFIB asked small businesses to define what recovery means to them. The top answers included: Being back to pre-pandemic sales (46 per cent); no longer experiencing high stress and anxiety levels due to COVID-19 (45 per cent); no longer experiencing pandemic related delays in supplies and shipping (44 per cent); being allowed to be fully open without restrictions (40 per cent); having paid off any debt incurred due to COVID-19 (39 per cent); being back to pre-pandemic staffing (27 per cent); no longer worrying about having to close their business permanently (24 per cent) and having established a set of "new normal" practices for employees and customers (23 per cent). 

"Recovery means much more than getting back to normal sales and staffing—it's also about paying down debt and processing the shock to our collective systems. Things are starting to look much more normal on the surface but there is still a long road ahead for many business owners who remain stressed out about the future," stated Simon Gaudreault, Vice-President of National Research at CFIB.