The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) last week released the latest monthly Business Barometer results showing confidence levels among Alberta’s entrepreneurs dropped by 1.5 points in December to 70.6.
Across Canada, confidence levels among business owners in the retail sector fell almost seven points from 66.8 to 60.0, which helped to bring down the overall national small business confidence index by 3.6 points.
“Unfortunately, it looks like many business owners, especially those in retail, are feeling the holiday season may not have been as good as they had hoped and expected,” says Richard Truscott, Alberta Director for CFIB.
“Despite some softening of confidence in a few keys sectors, which may at least be partly explained by seasonality in the data, our province’s business owners, on balance, are still relatively optimistic about the performance of their business going into 2014”, says Truscott.
Alberta’s entrepreneurs are now the second most confident in the country, behind British Columbia (72.6), but more than eight points above the national index of 62.3. Looking across the country, the results for the other provinces in December were: Saskatchewan (68.4), Newfoundland (68.1), Manitoba (63.4), Ontario (62.9), PEI (58.3) Nova Scotia (58.3), New Brunswick (56.7), and Quebec (53.8).
In Alberta, entrepreneurs remain generally positive about the general health of their businesses. Forty four per cent in December said it was good, down six points since November, while only eight per cent described it as bad, two points higher than a month earlier.
The shortage of skilled workers easily remains the biggest operating challenge for small businesses, with 36 per cent of entrepreneurs identifying the issue as limiting their sales or production growth.
Hiring intentions in December were still relatively strong but did see a dip. Thirty-two per cent of business owners surveyed said they were planning to expand their full-time workforce in the next three months, compared to 38 per cent in November. Only six per cent of entrepreneurs in December were expecting a reduction in employment, one point higher than November.