Published On: Friday, 29 December 2017

CFIB: Small Business Optimism Muted Heading into 2018

CFIB: Small Business Optimism Muted Heading into 2018

CANADA – As Canada heads into the new year, small business confidence remains muted across much of the country, according the latest Business Barometer® survey, released at the end of December by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

The monthly index measuring small business optimism edged up in December to 59.7 (out of 100), well below its 12-month peak of 66.0 in May 2017. Normally the index level hovers between 65 and 70 when the economy is growing at its potential. The December 2017 findings were based on 701 responses, and are statistically accurate to +/- 3.7 per cent, 19 times in 20.

“Despite a growing economy, the concern over rising wages and taxes have many small businesses nervous about what the first few months of 2018 holds for them,” says Ted Mallett, Vice-President and Chief Economist at CFIB.

The survey shows a big jump in short-term wage expectations: over the next three months, small businesses plan to increase wages by 2.7 per cent—by far the highest reading recorded since the survey was initiated in 2009.

Once again, business owners in Quebec are the country’s most optimistic—as they have been for much of 2017—with that index rising almost a point to 66.3. Larger improvements of more than three points came from British Columbia (64.3) and Alberta (60.1), while Saskatchewan (50.9) experienced the biggest drop in confidence.

Confidence Index

Province Confidence Index Change from November
Quebec

66.3

+0.9
British Columbia 64.3 +3.5

Nova Scotia

60.8 +0.9
Alberta 60.1 +3.9
Ontario 57.5 -0.8
Manitoba 57.4 +2.1
Prince Edward Island 56.5 +0.7
Saskatchewan 50.9 -1.4
New Brunswick 50.8 -0.6
Newfoundland & Labrador 50.0 +1.0

 Despite the holidays, business owners in the retail (53.7) and hospitality (44.5) sectors are the least confident heading into 2018; both industries saw big declines in December.

Conversely, the financial services, insurance and real estate sector saw the largest increase (+6.1) in confidence in December and is now the most optimistic industry group, with an index score of 66.1.

Read the December Business Barometer®.