P.E.I. business owners losing confidence: survey

P.E.I. small business owners have been losing confidence through the spring and summer, according to a national survey.

P.E.I. small business owners have been losing confidence through the spring and summer, according to a national survey.

The monthly survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business shows that, even though small business owners across the country are generally feeling more optimistic these days, Islanders aren't as upbeat.

"The weather hasn't helped," said Nick Campbell, general manager of the Anne of Green Gables Store in Charlottetown. "It's just kind of been almost like a perfect storm of negative factors. It's a little bit tight everywhere."

The CFIB suspects the lack of sunshine is fuelling the concern for a lot of Island businesses. Many survey respondents said there's been "insufficient demand" for their products this summer when sales are normally at their highest.

"Certainly for the last while, while we've seen recovery happening in a lot of other provinces, particularly out West with their natural resources rebounding in the global economy, it's still fairly soft, fairly flat here in the Maritimes," said Erin McGrath-Gaudet, CFIB director of provincial affairs for P.E.I.

"It's not doom and gloom, but it's not a sunny picture either."

Nellie Vanda Murray, of Nellie's P.E.I. Kitchen and Gifts, said: "It's been a fairly slow start with May and June being wet, windy, and cold."

According to the CFIB, the price of gas is also shaking a lot of Island business owners' confidence.

Brett Doyle, owner of the Charlottetown golf store King of Clubs, said his sales have been up lately. But with the price of gas up, too, it's made it harder to turn much of a profit, particularly on P.E.I.

"In order for us to be competitive with someone not transporting the goods as far, we have to absorb the cost, which we do, which makes it difficult to be competitive," said Doyle.

McGrath Gaudet agreed with that assessment.

"It's a big issue for a lot of Island businesses, whether it's receiving goods or, you know, needing to fuel up your own fleet of vehicles that is a concern," she said.

But, the good news is that weather and gas prices are both subject to change, McGrath-Gaudet said.