by Jefford & Sherwin
The new Coronavirus variant originating from South Africa was dubbed “Omicron” last Wednesday after the first positive sample of the variant was found in South Africa. The Omicron variant has not been around for a significant amount of time and health officials still do not have a clear idea of what the effects of this new variant is. Omicron variant cases have been rising faster than the Delta variant of Covid-19. We can only hope the restrictions in Canada do not get worse over time. As of now we do not have the information to know if the vaccines will protect against the new variant.
As we know businesses have already been struggling due to covid. All of these restrictions from covid; such as social distancing, vaccine requirements, mask requirements, and proper covid sanitation have hit all small businesses very hard. Over the duration of covid Canada’s GDP has suffered a $135 billion loss after 181,000 businesses, almost one in six of all businesses faced closure. Lockdowns have also been a large factor in small business loss. Lockdowns have prevented people from leaving their houses for non-essential reasons. With each incoming wave people were forced into lockdown resulting in businesses losing customers. Recently in Ontario, we have been able to “flatten the curve” which relieved some of the stress on our healthcare system, and allowed us to return to some sense of normalcy. With this new variant “Omicron” there are many concerns that there will be another lockdown and many small business owners fear that they will not be able to survive another drought of customers.
When covid first began all businesses expected to take a hit to their revenue, but big businesses however did not. Retail businesses such as Walmart and Amazon have thrived during the pandemic, with Walmart raking in over $130 billion in revenue as well as hiring more than 200,000 new employees to help with this influx of demand for their products. The online retailer Amazon has also gathered a sizable $610 million in sales during the past year. With everyone staying at home, online shopping has become part of consumers’ shopping routine, this prompted Walmart to invest more in its e-commerce sales which led to a 74% increase in its online sales.
Many business owners feel the covid safety restrictions imposed by the government are only targeted towards their small businesses. They feel hopeless, because their sales are declining while big companies are easily increasing their revenue and expanding to compete with one another. This is important because there is lots of pressure on the government to loosen up restrictions to support small businesses, but they must act carefully or they risk going into another lockdown.