Small businesses confident and optimistic on Canadian economy and business improvement



    
    STAPLES Canada Quarterly Index indicates more small business owners
    looking to expand skill sets and business offerings
    

    TORONTO, June 17 /CNW/ - The STAPLES Canada Small Business National
Quarterly Index, released today, reveals that Canadian small businesses are
doing better than they expected they would. The survey, conducted by Angus
Reid Strategies, also reveals that two in five small business
owners/executives are more confident about the economic conditions in Canada
than they were last quarter.
    When asked in Q1 2009 26 per cent expected to see an improvement in the
next quarter. However, 39 per cent reported improvement in Q2 2009, a shift of
50 per cent. Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of Canadian small businesses
state that their business situation has held steady or improved slightly in
the past three months (up versus 64 per cent in March 2009, an increase of 16
per cent). There are now more small businesses reporting at least improvement
(39 per cent) than there are reporting a decline (26 per cent), a reversal
from the previous quarter.
    "While we must remain cautiously optimistic, this trend towards increased
confidence in, and outlook for, both the Canadian economy and improvement by
small businesses is certainly a positive sign," says Citibank Canada economist
Dana Peterson. "The entrepreneurial nature of small businesses means that they
are often better able to react quickly to changing economic conditions.
Because of this we often see that they are better at withstanding economic
turbulence and can serve as harbingers for change on a bigger scale."
    There may be early indications of a shift in how Canadian small
businesses are coping with the current economic conditions with less
operational cost cutting and more efforts towards building business
capabilities and offerings. Fewer, just under half (49 per cent), Canadian
small business owners/executives cite cutting operational costs as a primary
means of coping with the economic situation in Q2 2009 (down versus 55 per
cent in March 2009). Conversely, more than one in three are coping by
expanding the scope of business offerings (34 per cent, up versus 29 per cent
in March 2009) or by expanding skill sets (34 per cent, up versus 26 per cent
in March 2009).
    "The results of this survey are quite inspiring. Not only is there
optimism among Canadian small businesses towards the Canadian economy, these
businesses have seen a respectable degree of success during turbulent economic
times," says Steve Matyas, president of STAPLES Canada.
    "It is also interesting to note how businesses are changing their coping
strategies. One of our goals at STAPLES Canada is to work closely with small
businesses and provide them with the tools they need - tools such as the Citi
STAPLES easyRewards Business MasterCard to help them better handle operating
expenses and STAPLES BizLaunch Seminars to assist with expanding skill sets."
    Canadian small businesses are also showing increased confidence for the
near future. Over two-thirds (70 per cent) expect at least some improvement to
their business over the next six months (compared to 58 per cent in March
2009, an increase of 21 per cent) and the number expecting a decline has
dropped from 17 per cent to 6 per cent (a decrease of 65 per cent). Similarly,
only 12 per cent feel that economic conditions in Canada will decline over the
next three months (down versus 38 per cent in March 2009, a decrease of 68 per
cent).

    About the Quarterly Index

    The STAPLES Canada Small Business National Quarterly Confidence Index
study was conducted by Angus Reid Strategies through online interviews with
owners and executives of small businesses (up to 50 full-time employees)
across Canada. 543 interviews were completed in total, from May 13 -25, 2009.

    
    The STAPLES Canada Small Business National Quarterly Confidence Index will
be conducted quarterly in order to gauge:
    -   Shifting perceptions of the Canadian economy;
    -   The self-confidence and optimism of Canadian small businesses; and,
    -   Any changes in how Canadian small businesses are adjusting to
        economic conditions.
    

    By conducting a quarterly poll STAPLES is able to establish key indices
on the status of Canadian small businesses. They can also monitor changes in
their confidence in the economy, their success, their view of the business
opportunities they have and any steps they are taking to the economy.
    For more information on how STAPLES Canada can help small businesses,
please visit staples.ca and click on Business Services.

    About STAPLES Canada

    Founded in Toronto in 1991, The Business Depot Ltd./STAPLES Canada Inc.
is Canada's largest supplier of office supplies, business machines, office
furniture and business services for the small business and home office
customer. The company is an everyday low price retailer. The chain operates
stores in all provinces across Canada under the banners STAPLES Canada and
Bureau en Gros(MC). Marketing Magazine's Marketing/Leger 2008 Corporate
Reputation Survey ranked STAPLES Canada/Bureau en Gros number one among
Canada's top 100 companies surveyed in Canada. The company has over 13,500
employees serving customers through more than 300 office superstores,
catalogue, and e-commerce. STAPLES, STAPLES(R)/Bureau en Gros(MC) is committed
to making shopping easy by offering customers three ways to shop: online, by
catalogue and in-store. More information is available at www.staples.ca.

    About Staples

    Staples, the world's largest office products company, is committed to
making it easy for customers to buy a wide range of office products, including
supplies, technology, furniture, and business services. With 2008 sales of $23
billion and 91,000 associates worldwide, Staples serves businesses of all
sizes and consumers in 27 countries throughout North and South America,
Europe, Asia and Australia. In July 2008, Staples acquired Corporate Express,
one of the world's leading suppliers of office products to businesses and
institutions. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and is
headquartered outside Boston. More information about Staples (Nasdaq:   SPLS) is
available at www.staples.com.





For further information:

For further information: Jack Wojcicki, Libby Stunt, Veritas
Communications, (416) 482-0723, (416) 955-4586, wojcicki@veritascanada.com,
stunt@veritascanada.com; Rachel Swiednicki, Public Relations Specialist,
STAPLES/Bureau en Gros, (905) 737-1147 x 2714, rachel.swiednicki@staples.ca


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