Businesses expect subdued sales in the short term as they face continued cost and labour pressures, despite slowing inflation, according to a survey by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s Business Data Lab released the results of its first-quarter poll on business conditions, which found one-third of companies expect to raise prices in the second quarter.

The retail, accommodation and food services sector, along with wholesale trade, construction and manufacturing sectors, reported feeling the most impacted by ongoing price pressures.

Businesses said they expect inflation to remain the top obstacle over the next three months at 58%, followed by input costs at 46% and interest rates and debt costs at 40%. Inflation slowed to 5.9% in January, down from 6.3% in December.

Most companies with at least five employees said they are still concerned about labour challenges, which businesses plan to address through higher wages, more flexible work arrangements, and enhanced training, according to the survey. Around three-quarters of companies with recruiting and retention challenges believed this will hinder their production.

While the business outlook weakened slightly from the previous quarter, 68% of respondents still reported feeling optimistic for their business over the next 12 months, compared with 19% that said they feel pessimistic.

Measured by census metropolitan area, Ottawa business saw the biggest bump in optimism since last quarter’s survey, and the highest level of optimism overall, rising 12 percentage points to 80%. Toronto businesses were the least optimistic, at 58%, down 12 points. Business optimism was on the rise across Western Canada, led by Winnipeg at 70%, followed by Saskatoon and Edmonton at 67%, Vancouver at 65%, and Calgary at 63%.

Nearly 16,000 businesses responded to the survey between Jan. 3 and Feb. 6.

To view the report, visit the Canadian Chamber of Commerce website. 

Source: The Star
Source: CTV News
Source: Canadian Chamber of Commerce