A survey of Langley City businesses found while some are struggling, others are busier than ever during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost every business in the City was contacted by phone over several days in July, on behalf of the Economic Development Task Group that aims to kick-start economic recovery.
About about 1,400 calls in total were made, collectively, over a three-day space in July.
Every member of council, staff and volunteers made calls, said task force chair Coun. Teri James, who spoke to “about 45” retailers herself.
“The beauty of it is, we we all did it in the same time frame,” James explained.
Some of the businesses James discovered, were barely getting by, with one jewelry store reporting they had been forced to close, while some auto dealers said they have had to cut staff.
But others had a very different story.
“I spoke to a truck retailer and they were busier than they’ve ever been,” James related.
A boat seller couldn’t keep up with demand, and attributed the increase to “young males” who want to pursue outdoor sports that allow physical distancing, James noted.
ATV sales were also up.
Task force vice-chair Paul Albrecht spoke to “about 50” businesses, mainly industrial and commercial, and found most in that category were getting by.
“Everyone was doing fairly well, Albrecht discovered.
“There was a slow-down, but they were able to adapt.”
However, some reported “a real challenge finding people to come back to work,” with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) , along with worry about the coronavirus, cited as factors, Albrecht told the Langley Advance Times.
A full view of the all responses is being prepared, and a report is expected in late September.
Albrecht said the full survey results will provide “a real-life understanding of the pressures businesses have gone through.”
“We did it because we want to know what’s going on,” he added.
It represents the second phase of the economic recovery, with phase three — advocacy — using the findings to back up the City when it holds virtual video meetings with senior levels of government at the upcoming UBCM conference “to show we knew what we were talking about,” James commented.
James said once call recipients understood it really was the City calling, they were appreciative.
One goal of the outreach was to make sure businesses knew the City can help them get necessary information about managing the COVID-19 crisis — through a constantly updated page on the Langley City website that aims to provide a single, easy-to-navigate place where businesses can find all of the information needed.
None of the businesses James spoke to were aware of the page until she called, James said.
James and Albrecht weren’taware of any other B.C. municipality conducting a similar survey, something that she observed would not be practical in larger municipalities with many more businesses.
“Our size plays to our advantage,” James commented.