American Express Survey Shows Majority of Canadian Small Business Owners are Not Panicking in the Wake of Economic Turmoil

    Despite this resilience, realities remain with 41 per cent feeling a
    negative impact from the current economy

    MARKHAM, ON, Oct. 16 /CNW/ - A new survey released by American Express
Canada indicates that Canadian small businesses are not taking drastic action
to change their business plans or operations in the wake of the current
economic turmoil. The findings show that three quarters (77%) of these
business owners say they'll 'stay the course' with few changes planned in how
they run their business. The poll was conducted between September 29 and
October 6, 2008 by Ipsos Reid.
    While the majority of Canadian small businesses are not making major
changes to their business, they are realistic about the economic environment,
with two thirds (64%) saying they're 'wary and cautious' and only one in five
(20%) describing themselves as 'unfazed and upbeat'. In fact, 66 per cent are
feeling or expect to feel a negative impact from the current economic
environment in the near term and 41 per cent are already feeling a negative
    The survey findings reported that 60 per cent of business owners believe
the Canadian economy will be affected but will 'avoid serious damage,'
compared to 36 per cent of business owners who speculate that the Canadian
economy will be 'dragged down into a recession or worse.'
    "Small business remains a cornerstone of the Canadian economy and a vital
part of communities across the country, particularly during these uncertain
economic times," said Howard Grosfield, VP & General Manager, Small Business
Services, American Express Canada & International. "Canada's small businesses
are now looking to reevaluate their relationships to make sure they're getting
the treatment and services they deserve to further stretch every dollar."
    Of the business owners polled, 23% intend to take action to alleviate the
strains imposed by challenging economic times with one in six (16%) worried
about the short term viability of their business. One quarter (25%)
acknowledge that their company will have serious problems in the near future
if they don't have access to credit or loans for what they want to do.

    The small business owners planning to do things differently (23%), will
focus on the following:

    -   Cut Back Expenses (68%)
    -   Pay Down Debt (28%)
    -   Pay Themselves Less (20%)
    -   Cut back on marketing spend (18%)
    -   Diversify (18%)
    -   Expand aggressively (15%)
    -   Lay off people (11%)

    Even with the prevailing economic environment, almost all small business
owners (89%) want to grow their business, but prudence rules with 15 per cent
having ambitions of growing their business dramatically, while 74 per cent are
in favour of more modest growth. Ten per cent have no ambitions for future
    In a companion benchmark survey from Amex, conducted just four weeks ago,
prior to the recent economic downturn, findings revealed a remarkably
determined and stoic group of business leaders. Exactly the same number (77%)
as now (77%) said they would stay the course despite the current economic

    About the survey

    The above data is the result of two online surveys. The first (companion
benchmark) survey was comprised of 762 Canadian Small Business Owners (SBO)
and completed between August 28 and September 15, 2008 concerning SBO
lifestyles. The second was conducted among 404 Canadian Small Business owners
from September 29 to October 6, 2008 to gauge their reactions to recent events
in the economy. Both surveys were among Canadian small business owners having
between 2 and 100 employees were conducted via Ipsos Reid's Ipsos I-Say
National Online Panel. American Express Canada will be releasing further data
specific to the Canadian small business owner over the coming weeks.

    About American Express in Canada

    American Express in Canada operates as Amex Bank of Canada and Amex
Canada Inc. Both are wholly owned subsidiaries of the New York based American
Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc., the largest operating unit of
the American Express Company. Amex Bank of Canada is the issuer of American
Express Cards in Canada. Amex Canada Inc. operates the Corporate Travel,
Travel Services Network and Travellers Cheques divisions in Canada. American
Express opened its first offices in Toronto and Hamilton in 1853 and now
employs 3,700 Canadians coast-to-coast.

For further information:

For further information: or a full copy of the report, please contact:
Jennifer Link or Tom Sargent, Edelman, (416) 979-1120 ext. 235, 250,,; Lauren Dineen-Duarte,
American Express Canada, (905) 474-8169,

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