Canadian Business Closures Surge, Fewest Business Openings Since Lockdowns

Canada’s soaring inflation and expensive real estate are weighing on its small businesses. Statistics Canada (Stat Can) data shows a sharp drop in active businesses in June. A combination of more closures and fewer openings has wiped over a year of progress. There have been many warnings that this problem is brewing, and it’s expected to worsen in the coming years. 

Canadian Businesses See The Sharpest Decline In Years

Canada just saw the largest downtick of active businesses operating since the pandemic. There was a 0.8% drop to 925.8k active businesses in June, about 0.4% lower than last year. It was the fewest active businesses operating since March 2022, when inflation began to scale along with interest rates rapidly.   

Canadian Active Businesses Have Begun To Pull Back

The number of actively operating businesses in Canada per month. 

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling. 

Active businesses result from the net change in new, closing, and continuing businesses. The decline can occur due to more closures, fewer openings, or a combination. Each of these issues implies different circumstances, so diving into those numbers helps to provide more context. 

Canadian Businesses Are Closing At An Accelerated Rate

Canada is seeing businesses shutter at a faster clip than usual. Closures climbed 3.5% in June to 45.5k businesses, a whopping 14.9% more than the same month last year. It was the most significant month for business closures since February 2022. 

Businesses are closing at a faster rate, implying more operating pressure. That’s easy to see with soaring inflation driving input costs, primarily commercial rents. 

Canadian Active Business Growth Has Been Decelerating

The annual percent change of active businesses in Canada.  

Source: Statistics Canada; Better Dwelling.

Canadians Are Starting The Fewest New Businesses Since The Pandemic 

Unfortunately, the situation gets worse—new businesses are slowing down as well. The number of new businesses fell 15.8% in June to 38.6k businesses, about 9.2% lower than last year. It was the weakest month for new business openings since May 2021, during lockdowns. The fewest business openings since people encountered regulatory pandemic barriers to restrict openings, is not a good sign. 

Canada is experiencing the worst combo possible—more businesses are closing, and fewer are opening. Canada prides itself on low regulatory barriers to opening a business, but with some of the highest input costs in the world, the reality is very different. Despite a rapidly growing population, fewer business owners are finding themselves able to operate in this environment. 

The direction is less than ideal but widely expected. Earlier this year, Canada’s largest bank warned that young adults are doing much worse than previous generations and can’t drive the economy in the same way. High debt loads and shelter costs make it challenging to consume and take risks like creating new businesses (and jobs). 

Going even further back, the OECD warned that Canadians are too debt-focused, presenting economic challenges in the future. Since debt is borrowing future growth, the recent boom means paying back that growth for a long time. The inter-country organization sees Canada lagging behind its advanced economic peers for the next 40 years. An impressive consequence realized after just a few years of poor prioritization. 

3 Comments

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  • John Wilaon 9 months ago

    There is also the negative impact of the federal government’s recent increased taxation on passive corporate income, that often reduces net cash available to invest in the business before it can be utilized by the business.

    • Trader Jim 9 months ago

      Trying to understand if this is a related point to closures, or just mentioned to include how the business environment is eroding?

  • Trevor Schwartz 9 months ago

    “Why start a business when buying a home makes $x per month, or I can become a landlord.”
    – everyone in Canada

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