Big box stores swallowed the most consumer cash during the pandemic, CFIB says

After one year of the pandemic, Alberta small businesses are, on average, $186,000 in debt, the CFIB says.

While Canadians are resolute in their desire to help small businesses recover from the pandemic, new data suggests that big box stores and online retailers gobbled up the lions' share of consumer dollars during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released results from a new public opinion poll that suggested a majority (60 per cent) of Canadians spent less at small businesses and more at larger retailers.

Despite that, the poll also found nine in 10 respondents wanted to do more to help struggling small businesses.

Now that Alberta is fully reopened, the CFIB says now is the time to take action.

"We have a big opportunity to show our small business the love and support they desperately need,” said Annie Dormuth, CFIB Alberta's provincial affairs director in a release.

To do this, the group is reintroducing its #SmallBusinessEveryday contest for 2021, which gives consumers and businesses the chance to win a share of almost $300,000 in prizes.

To enter, people can go to SmallBusinessEveryDay.ca and forward a thank you note to a small business.

When they submit a message, they are entered into a draw for $2,000 as well as a multitude of gift cards from Scotiabank, eBay, Mastercard and Dairy Queen.

In the meantime, the businesses mentioned in the notes are entered into a weekly draw of their own for $10,000, gift cards as well as a special prize package from Microban 24 to help small businesses reopen safely.

"This contest gives consumers an easy way to say thank you and support small businesses with the added bonus of possibly winning some money to shop local. It's a win-win," said CFIB executive vice-president Laura Jones.

According to the latest data from the CFIB's Small Business Recovery Dashboard, 73 per cent of Alberta small businesses are fully open, 50 per cent are fully staffed and 39 per cent are earning the amount of revenue they did prior to the pandemic.