News and Views January 2021

Photo: Tamarack

Slow and Fragile Recovery Continues in 2021

As we welcome another year, the Board of Directors and staff of the Nelson and District Chamber of commerce sincerely thank everyone in the community and especially all of the Nelson and area businesses for being resilient in one of the toughest years we have endured together. 2020 challenged us all to be resilient, persevere, adapt, and the Chamber worked hard to advocating for the urgent needs of our Nelson and Area business community, and to keep our businesses open.

The Chamber has been working tirelessly on behalf of businesses and community organizations. When the pandemic hit in the spring, we collaborated with our local economic development partners and utilized the BC Chamber of Commerce,  pulse check surveys to gauge the immediate needs our business community. We have been proud to support business in Nelson and Area and throughout BC by powering decision making from government, influencing fiscal support programs, and recommending a way back on our road to economic recovery.

Data from the BCMIndreader, business recovery outreach, and locally facilitated roundtables helped shape City of Nelson Economic stimulus plan as well as the federal and provincial emergency response funding for COVID-19. We relayed your requests for immediate relief and flexibility on tax remittance, provincial school tax on property, and further wage replacement programs.

There is still more work necessary, and more assistance required.

Despite the rising cases and new restrictions, 36% of businesses are feeling slightly more optimistic for the next 12 months, and 22% expect to increase their employment levels in the next 6 months. Of course, many Nelson and area and other BC businesses are still feeling a strain because of the pandemic (such as with higher operating costs) and further government supports will be needed going into 2021 to help get business on the road to recovery.

Impacts on Businesses Key Findings

  • The most common impact continues to be decreased sales volume, reported by 72% of businesses.
  • 51% (higher proportion than in the past) reporting increasing operating costs, likely due to costs associated with new restrictions.
  • 62% of businesses report that their revenue has decreased by over 25% since the pandemic began.
  • 22% of businesses report that they expect to operate for 6 months or less given current restrictions, support measures, and operating costs.

Government Recovery Plan and Support still required as we move through 2021

  • 73% of businesses are using some form of government support program to assist during COVID (up from 65% in July). What is still needed? Greater tax relief (45%), More support for wages (40%, More / more effective cash flow relief (32%) and relaxing of restrictions when safe!

Long Term Impacts

  • Businesses report using more new digital solutions as a result of the pandemic. Adoption included new online meeting tools (63%), digital payment solutions (46%), online education tools (45%), digital marketing tools (41%), and new e-commerce solutions (28%),
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, business report that the following areas have worsened:
    • Cost of doing business (63%)
    • Access to labour & availability of workers (33%)

Challenges remain for local business

We have seen some sectors including construction and related trades and building supply businesses doing well as did businesses involved n outdoor activities like bike shops and garden centres having better than normal years. But others, like restaurants, food and beverage and hospitality, the arts and performing arts sectors are looking at some tough times under the current restrictions.

Let’s do our part to support restaurants, and hospitality businesses. Local businesses are working hard to keep afloat during these unprecedented times. They are re-evaluating their bottom lines and looking at innovative ideas to increase business while following all the new protocols being put in place. They are looking to gain control of their business’s big financial picture.  We need to keep this in mind as businesses evolve with all these changes and we need to keep supporting our local businesses so they can thrive and continue to support our communities.

As a community, we have done a good job, but it can’t stop now. Let’s pitch in as we revitalize through challenging times and prepare for post pandemic. Dine In, Pick Up, order Delivery. Share word on social media, post photos, give thanks for good service and thank businesses for being there under these difficult times. Our local businesses make Nelson and area unique and shapes us to be the community we all love to Live-Shop-Dine-Play.