Richmond Hill, ON (CNW) Staples Canada has always supported small businesses, and with entrepreneurs preparing to reopen and rebuild, The Working and Learning Company has significantly increased its support in the areas they need most: access to the right resources, tools, savings, expert advice and access to financial support. These initiatives aim to help small businesses navigate their new reality.

According to a recent survey commissioned by Staples Canada78 per cent of small businesses in Canada reported a drop in sales since the onset of COVID-19, with 47 per cent reporting a steep 50-100 per cent drop in sales. 22 per cent of small businesses in Canada reported a 100 per cent drop in sales since the onset COVID-19 due to a halt in operations. In fact, 43 per cent of all small businesses said they don’t feel confident that their business will be back to pre-COVID-19 levels a year from now. Of the small businesses that saw a decline in sales, more than half (55 per cent) said they don’t feel confident that their business will be back to pre-COVID-19 levels a year from now. The survey also found 35 per centreport that they feel worse about the prospects of their business over the next year compared to the current situation.

“This is a difficult time to be a business owner and our research highlights some of the pressing issues the small business community is currently facing,” said David Boone, CEO of Staples Canada. “Small businesses are an integral part of our economy and our local communities and it’s more important than ever to support them. The new resources and services we are offering can help reduce concerns and some of the challenges they face as they re-open for business.”

As the Canadian economy begins to reopen, 32 per cent of small businesses in Canada reported needing assistance with safety measures, including workplace and customer safety, followed by finances (28 per cent), marketing support (19 per cent), refocusing their business (18 per cent), community/networking (14 per cent) and workspace equipment such as furniture or products at 11 per cent. According to the survey, 67 per cent of Canadians small businesses reported not having received any financial assistance since the onset of COVID-19. The survey also found that 57 per cent estimated that they would need some sort of financial assistance to continue successfully operating in the future.

The survey also revealed 44 per cent of small businesses reported facing a variety of technology and tech support challenges, including digital marketing (19 per cent), ecommerce (13 per cent) and their other online offerings, including their website with 17 per cent. Small businesses also noted that workplace and employee safety (21 per cent) were also a current challenge.

As part of a series of initiatives to support small businesses, Staples Canada has launched a Small Business Headquarters (SBHQ) at staples.ca/SmallBusinessHQ. The only digital platform of its kind, it is a resource to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get to the work they love with confidence. SBHQ offers comprehensive resources on health and safety information, helpful information on external business funding and loans, tax relief programs, and much more. During a confusing and stressful time, SBHQ helps business owners save time, energy and money by collecting critical resources in one place.

Smarter Business Financing™
This new financing platform helps Canadian entrepreneurs discover the right path to finance their business, taking the guesswork out of finding the best financing solution to fuel their growth. In three simple steps, the Smarter Business Financing™ platform recommends the most appropriate financial lender specific to the customer’s needs in under three minutes. Through financing providers LendifiedMerchant Growth and FundThrough, Smarter Business Financing™ offers customers financing solutions from $5,000 to $500,000, along with unique benefits like discounted origination fees to help Canadian small businesses save time and money.

Continuous Learning
As part of Staples Canada’s ongoing dedication to educational content on staples.ca, the company is ramping up its content platform for small business owners. Housed on SBHQ and Staples Canada’s Working and Learning BlogStaplesprovides insights on a wide range of topics, including entrepreneurship, technology, workspace optimization, digital marketing, product trends, mental health, productivity and more. Its popular Spotlight Series has gone digital with live virtual sessions each week featuring talks from business owners and experts from across the country.

Lower Prices on Essential Products 
To help business owners get back to business, Staples Canada has lowered prices on hundreds of essential business products in-store and at staples.ca. Prices have been lowered on a variety of critical categories including retail supplies, business tools, shipping supplies and computer accessories.

Business Services at Solutionshop
Solutionshop provides business owners with an extensive range of essential business services, including digital marketing, graphic design, tech support, health and safety resources, signage solutions, shipping, print services and more. Solutionshop is currently offering free services and discounts on graphic design, website design and printing solutions.

“We are always exploring new avenues to support Canadian small businesses through innovative partnerships and outstanding services,” continued Boone. “With SBHQ and Smarter Business Financing, we want to help Canadians restart and rebuild with confidence. We’re committed to being a partner through this process and helping Canadians get back to business.”

Smarter Business Financing™ joins Staples Canada’s extensive list of innovative solutions for small businesses across Canada. Stores in TorontoOakvilleKelowna and Ottawa also feature Staples Studio co-working locations for entrepreneurs looking for office space solutions. Staples Canada has also launched the Let’s Get to Work marketing campaign to support these initiatives.

For more information on how Staples Canada is supporting small businesses and to view the resources that are available to entrepreneurs who are getting ready to re-open their businesses, visit staples.ca/SmallBusinessHQ.

About Staples Canada
Staples Canada is The Working and Learning Company. With a focus on community, inspiration and services, the company is committed to being a dynamic, inspiring partner to customers who visit its 305 locations across the country and online at staples.ca. The company offers four co-working facilities in Toronto, Kelowna, Ottawa and Oakville under the banner Staples Studio. Since its transformation to The Working and Learning Company, Staples Canada has been demonstrating a renewed commitment to small businesses and consumers, through expanded services that go beyond printing in Solutionshop, thousands of new products, tech services, special events, and informative content with the Spotlight Speaker Series and newly-launched blog. A privately-owned company, Staples Canada is dedicated to helping its customers work, learn and grow. Visit staples.ca for more information, or get social with @StaplesCanada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

About this survey:
These are the findings of a survey conducted by Staples Canada from May 19th to May 21st with a sample of 331 English-speaking Canadian small business owners and managers working in businesses with 1 to 99 employees who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. The sample was balanced by employee count and English-speaking regions based on Industry Canada data. A probability sample of n=331 would yield a margin of error of +/- 6.1%, 19 times out of 20.

About the Angus Reid Forum: 
The Angus Reid Forum is Canada’s most well-known and trusted online public opinion community consisting of engaged residents across the country who answer surveys on topical issues that matter to all Canadians.

SOURCE Staples Canada ULC