People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 walk past a window display at a store in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, December 13, 2020. The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Greater Vancouver business organization says members face uncertain outlook in 2021

Many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021

The association representing businesses across Metro Vancouver says the costs of COVID-19 continue to mount for its members.

The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade has released its annual Region in Review report showing pandemic-related challenges obscure the path to economic recovery.

The survey shows many board of trade members have been hit, with 62 per cent still seeing decreased sales, 36 per cent reporting higher operating costs and roughly 30 per cent confirming layoffs or cuts in operating hours to make ends meet.

Seventy per cent of owners say they don’t expect normal workplace routines until at least the summer, while 10 per cent predict the majority of their workers may never return to the office.

Although the survey shows 41 per cent of businesses are optimistic about recovery, only 49 per cent expect business as usual when government assistance ends.

The same number predict lower revenues through June, 24 per cent anticipate layoffs and 22 per cent plan to cut hours.

Board president Bridgitte Anderson says the survey reveals many Greater Vancouver businesses are barely treading water as they enter 2021.

“The near-term outlook is uncertain, with many leaders anxious about what the future holds for their businesses,” Anderson says in a statement.

“Our entrepreneurs are resilient and are investing and pivoting to digital as they forge a path that will help them not only navigate the pandemic but guide our region to prosperity in the future,” she says.

The report is part of the board of trade’s 32nd annual Economic Outlook Forum and was compiled from responses by 134 board members to a survey by the Mustel Group between Jan. 5 and 12.

The Canadian Press

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