B.C. loses 6,600 businesses amid pandemic

Latest data shows province making up losses since height of pandemic restrictions

An empty storefront along Vancouver's Robson Street | Photo: Rob Kruyt

The West Coast business landscape is still absorbing hard hits amid the pandemic, with new data revealing 6,600 fewer active businesses operating as of last October compared with a year earlier.

Those losses amount to a decline of 5.1% businesses year over year, according to the Chartered Professional Accounts of B.C.’s Check-Up: Invest report released Thursday (February 18).

But it appears the province is trending in a positive direction.

The report found that 14,000 businesses were shuttered between March and May 2020 — the height of pandemic-induced restrictions — before bouncing back in the fall.

Overall, businesses operating in arts, entertainment and recreation experienced the biggest blows as of October 2020, with -10.3% fewer businesses operating in that sector.

That was followed by natural resource extraction (-8.6%); real estate, rental and leasing (-8.2%); and accommodation and food services (-7.9%).

Statistics Canada reported in the fall the province managed to lead the nation in employment gains in October with 33,500 jobs added in that month.

The vast majority of those gains — 25,700 jobs — were for part-time positions compared with the addition of 7,800 full-time jobs.

Since then, the province has seen employment growth steadily slow, with 23,900 jobs added in November, 4,400 jobs added in December and 2,800 jobs added in January.

“The snapback has passed,” Ken Peacock, chief economist of the Business Council of B.C, told BIV earlier this month.

“We’re in a bit of a grind now.”

torton@biv.com

@reporton