Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Dianne Hawkins says valley businesses are staying strong in these turbulent times.

Hawkins was reacting to a BC Chamber of Commerce survey.

It found that almost half of the British Columbia businesses that are temporarily closed are not confident in their ability to reopen.

Among Vancouver Island businesses that took the survey: 

  • 80 percent say their sales volume decreased since the pandemic started,
  • 54 percent have had to close temporarily,
  • 39 percent have cancelled contracts,
  • 30 percent have deferred and cancelled capital projects,
  • 16 percent saw their operating costs increase, 
  • 45 percent laid off employees, 
  • 42 percent reduced staff hours. 

Province-wide, four in 10 businesses surveyed say they can only continue to operate for up to three months under the current restrictions. 

For businesses temporarily closed, the future is similarly dire, with only half (or 53 percent) of those surveyed expecting to reopen once the restrictions are eased on workplace operations, while 38 percent are unsure, and eight percent will not reopen.

The survey polled 1,284 member-businesses of the BC Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the Business Council of British Columbia, and other partners, with the assistance of the Mustel Group. 

Meanwhile, island businesses continue to pivot to meet the new normal with 26 percent saying they increased e-commerce services while ramping up their digital presence.

Hawkins said that while all valley businesses have been impacted in a big way, they aren’t about to throw in the towel: “I see a group of people that are survivors, that are finding innovative ways to reach their clients, innovative ways to do business, and getting ahead of what’s going on.”

She added there has been a lot of adaptation, “and I think that really speaks to the quality of the community that we have here in the Comox Valley.”

Hawkins said you can sign up for these surveys at bcmindreader.com.

She added that it takes about 45 seconds to register.

“Once you’ve signed up and given your name and your business, and some of your information like where is your business, what size it is it etc. , then the next time we send out a pulse check, it will come up and say, ‘Hey, these are the questions that we have about business or this is a question about HR.’ The more people we have on there from the Comox Valley, the better able I am to give actual Comox Valley statistics.”