Business openings drop by 50 per cent as possible recession looms
New business openings in the second quarter of 2022 were down almost 50 per cent compared with a year ago as economic pressures rise, says credit reporting agency Equifax Inc.
The sharp pullback in openings, which is also down by almost 49 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2019, marks a shift from the sense of optimism last year among consumers and business owners as vaccines were rolled out and restrictions eased, said Jeff Brown, Equifax's head of commercial solutions.
The reopening of the economy in 2021 led to a bounced back in openings across all industries after months of abnormally low levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a reopening trend that, while slowing, didn't significantly drop until the second quarter of this year, said Brown.
There is normally a large uptick in business openings in the second quarter of the year as businesses gear up for the summer, said Brown, a combination of new businesses registering and existing ones becoming financially active.
He said the lack of openings this year come as small businesses, which make up the bulk of new openings, struggle with inflation, decreased consumer spending, increased debt from pandemic loans, and supply chain problems.
"Unfortunately, it's a bit of an uphill battle for a lot of businesses."
The drop in openings is "deeply concerning" for the whole market, said Brown, as small businesses purchase goods and services from bigger companies.
"It's not only the little guys that are going to be affected by this, but the large ones as well."
Though the drop was across industries, certain sectors were hit harder: construction, manufacturing and automotive.
Brown, who said normally about 100,000 new businesses open in the second quarter, sees the significant drop was a sign of a potential recession ahead.
The worrying trend comes as Equifax said debt levels, delinquencies and bankruptcies are creeping back up toward pre-pandemic levels as stresses on businesses rise.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published September 30, 2022.
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