indicatorThe Owl

Business revenue down in Alberta

Three in ten businesses report that their revenue decreased by 50% or more due to the pandemic.

By ATB Economics 1 May 2020 2 min read

Yesterday’s Owl examined the initial impact of COVID-19 on staffing levels and compensation based on the results of the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions.* Today’s Owl takes a look at the pandemic’s impact on business revenue.

Three in ten Alberta businesses in the survey report that their revenue decreased by 50 per cent or more over the first three months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. 

More than three-quarters said their revenue was down at least somewhat, with only 13.2 per cent saying there was no change in their revenue and 7.9 per cent recording an increase. (This question was not applicable to 3.5 per cent of survey participants due to, for example, their business starting up after March 31, 2019.)

Over four in ten businesses in Canada’s accommodation and food services sector (industry-specific data by province are not available) said their revenue was down by 50 per cent or more during the first three months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. This was also the case for just under four in ten businesses in the national arts, entertainment and recreation sector.

No sector was spared, but businesses in the administrative and support, waste management and remediation services sector and the finance and insurance sector were the least likely to report a drop in revenue of 50 per cent or more. Although less than one in ten businesses in these sectors saw their revenue fall by half or more, six in ten still experienced at least some erosion of revenue compared to 2019.

Amid the carnage, a small number of businesses did see a jump in revenue in the January to March period. For example, just under two in ten wholesalers reported at least some increase in revenue (though not necessarily profit). Whether this trend will continue for these businesses deeper into the pandemic is not clear. 

What is clear from the survey is that the pandemic has already had a negative impact on the revenue of a vast number of businesses in Alberta and Canada.

*More than 12,600 people visited Statistics Canada's website in April and took part in an online survey about how COVID-19 is affecting their business. Although crowdsourced data cannot be applied to the Canadian business sector as a whole, the survey’s findings provide a preliminary sense of how the pandemic is affecting businesses and their employees.

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A note on COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on the economy here in Alberta and around the world. The Owl will report on these impacts when good information is available while continuing to track regularly scheduled releases of economic data and long-term trends. Please go to atb.com for COVID-19-related updates from ATB Financial.

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