A survey of businesses in Sidney found almost eight of ten respondents (79 per cent) that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their business with respondents calling for additional outdoor space. (Black Press Media).

Pandemic hurt almost eight out of 10 Sidney businesses, says survey

Businesses fear second potential wave, according to respondents

A survey suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has had an overwhelmingly negative effect on local business.

Almost eight of 10 respondents (79 per cent) told surveyors that the pandemic has negatively impacted their business, with 15.5 per cent saying that they experienced what the report calls “business-as-usual” conditions. The rest — 5.5 per cent — said the pandemic had a positive impact on their operations.

The Saanich Peninsula Chamber of Commerce and the Sidney Business lmprovement Area Society (SBIA) developed and conducted the survey in collaboration with Sidney staff and the municipality’s emergency operations centre (EOC). Drawing on Sidney’s database of 981 licensed businesses, surveyors received 324 responses from 700 businesses that they had contacted for a completion rate of 33 per cent. Surveyors solicited responses from a broad range of industries with the share of received responses coming close to the actual number of businesses in those sectors.

Of particular interest is the section of the survey that addresses the employment picture. Just over half of the businesses (52 per cent) that reported negative effects said they had laid off staff. When asked whether they would bring back laid-off staff, 59 per cent said they plan to bring back some but not all and 30 per cent said they would not be bringing staff back.

While not readily comparable to larger national surveys that Statistics Canada has conducted, the Sidney survey confirms broader trends, starting with the fact that the pandemic has had the most severe effects on human-facing industries such as retail and restaurants.

RELATED: Sidney businesses cautiously reopen their doors

Local retailers accounted for more than half (54 per cent) of all layoffs, while service businesses accounted for 25 per cent of layoffs. The remaining 26 per cent spread across 12 listed categories, suggesting that the actual job losses in those sectors were generally small.

Almost two out of three businesses (65 per cent) said they had accessed federal or provincial programs or funding designed to ease the economic effects of the pandemic.

When asked about concerns for their own businesses, respondents said they were concerned about when customers might return; reduced tourism; supply chain issues; reduced customer demand; a second wave of the pandemic; long term economic decline; and client safety.

When asked about the business community in general when coming out of the pandemic, respondents identified economic recession; widespread business closures; rising commercial vacancy rates; ability to meet new regulations; staff retention; reduced consumption, demand and foot traffic; and ability of the business community to survive a potential second wave.

The survey — whose results will go into the hands of Sidney’ recovery task force committee created last week — also offers some insights into measures that businesses consider helpful. Fifteen per cent of businesses said they support creating or expanding operations outdoors.

(Notably, council Monday will consider a staff recommendation to convert more on-street parking in the downtown core to create more public space for pedestrians and businesses. The proposed measures come on top of earlier approved measures.)

RELATED: Sidney blocks off parking spaces to create more sidewalk

RELATED: Sidney staff recommends additional outdoor seating for restaurants and cafes

Sixteen per cent said they would welcome in-person guidance about safe reopening and opening procedures. By way of background, EOC staff have already been working with local businesses.

More than 60 per cent of responses fall into the category of ‘others’ with recommendations from respondents ranging from increased child support to buy-local campaigns to improved coordination, collaboration and communication among local businesses.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich council seeks more information after hearing Uptown-Douglas plan

Council asks for further reports on economic, housing, transportation plans for corridor

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Victoria police seize replica handgun and bullets

Unrelated call leads police to functional replica

Alf Todd on a mission to fight Parkinson’s disease

Todd and group hope to raise $10,000 riding bikes to Port Alberni

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Most Read