SASKATOON -- Saskatoon businesses feel uncertain in COVID-19 pandemic: Chamber of Commerce

Many local businesses in Saskatoon are being given little choice but to pay rent for their storefronts while they are shut down.

With non-essential services ordered to close at the end of March, business owners are now dealing with an indefinite future of little to no income while rental payments loom.

Anthony Graham-Cutts owns Anthony’s Fashion and said his business has dropped by 75 per cent – but his rental payment was taken out of his bank account at the start of April as usual.

His landlord, Dream Management, recently offered a rent deferral. The agreement was just presented to Graham-Cutts and he doesn’t know the final details yet, but is encouraged by the dialogue even though it took longer than he had hoped.

“Our landlord has to realize that they are in a partnership with us. We’ve committed to a long-term lease and we want to be here when this chaos ends.”

Dream Management declined comment to CTV News.

Others in Saskatoon are getting a more favourable response from their landlords.

Lori Pressacco of Lori’s Sugaring said she’s satisfied with what her landlord is offering now, but admits that if it goes on longer than two months, she may have to consider closing her storefront.

“My landlord has offered us a 40 per cent deferral so if and when we get up and running that money is to be paid back," she told CTV News.

Other business owners we spoke to are being offered a deferral for rent payment until business can start up again.

The Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce surveyed its members by phone recently about their level of confidence in the continuation of their businesses.

It’s asking members where they’re at on a 10-point scale, with one being that the business must close completely and 10 being their operations being business as usual.

“The rating that we are getting from our members is 5.2 and that’s not great because they are not feeling certain in the environment,” Chamber of Commerce CEO Darla Lindbjerg told CTV News.

The answers fell to 4.6 when asked about their outlook if the pandemic continues for another six months.

Without programs from the community and government, businesses will be in a lot of trouble, Lindbjerg said.

The chamber is working with the provincial government to get expense forgiveness programs set up in addition to payment deferrals.