Media releasePublished on 05 March 2024

New Xero data shows Canadian small businesses continue to miss out on scarce spending

Sales trending down for six consecutive months while time to be paid increased

Toronto — March 5, 2024 Xero, the global small business platform, today released its latest Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI) update based on data from July to September, 2023. The findings further highlight the challenging environment facing Canadian small businesses. The data revealed that small business sales have declined for six consecutive months, year-over-year (y/y) – a significant run of declines, previously only recorded by XSBI once during the 2020 pandemic-induced recession.

Compared with other countries in the XSBI program, such as Australia (+6.8% y/y) and the UK (+3.9 y/y%), Canada had the slowest small business sales growth overall in the September quarter, at a decline of 5.0% y/y. The previous quarter’s XSBI data showed that there was a gap in the growth of Canada’s GDP (+0.9%) when compared to the small business economy’s growth (-2.7% y/y). This quarter’s data found the same trend, again Canada’s GDP growth is stronger than comparable growth in the small business sector. Canada’s nominal GDP grew 1.2% y/y in the September quarter, which is below the 5.0% fall in sales tracked for Canadian small businesses.

“This quarter's results are a reminder of how important it is for business owners to use all the levers they have to attract increasingly scarce customers, such as loyalty programs and regular specials,” said Louise Southall, Economist at Xero. “Even though Canadians continue to rebuild their savings and real wages are rising again, this latest XSBI data shows that consumers are still wary when it comes to discretionary spending - and small businesses are certainly feeling the crunch.”

Xero’s update found that late payments went up slightly in the September quarter, with Canadian small businesses being paid an average of 8.2 days late. Time to be paid came to an average of 29.7 days for this quarter, which was slightly longer than the previous update. The increase of payment times took place in the last two months of the September quarter. For example, average payment times were 29.1 days in June, but rose to 29.8 days in August and 30.1 days in September - further solidifying the critical need for Canadian small businesses to be paid on time.

“The quarterly Xero Small Business Insights update is a valuable indicator of economic trends impacting the small business sector, particularly when assessing the current operating environment,” said Faye Pang, Xero’s Canada Country Manager. “Sales have been lower than a year ago for six consecutive months and small businesses are currently waiting over a week to get paid - connect these two measures and you’ll see a strong indication that there are significant stresses on cash flow right now.”

“It’s pivotal that we continue to shop small and for all organizations that trade with small businesses to honour and assess payment terms,” Pang said.

Each quarter, Xero provides small business performance data for Canada and the United States, covering sales, time to be paid, and late payments across tens of thousands of its small business subscribers. The program also releases small business data covering Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This Xero Small Business Insights data and a free summary update are available to download each quarter at


Media Contact

Xero Canada | Kelly Kerr |

About Xero

Xero is a global small business platform with 3.95 million subscribers which includes a core accounting solution, payroll, workforce management, expenses and projects. Xero also has an extensive ecosystem of connected apps and connections to banks and other financial institutions helping small businesses access a range of solutions from within Xero’s open platform to help them run their business and manage their finances. Xero is a FIFA Women’s Football partner.

About Xero Small Business Insights

The aim of Xero Small Business Insights is to create insights to help inform decision makers in support of the small business economy as a whole. The principal source of small business insights in this report is customer data from Xero - a small business platform that supports online accounting and a range of other applications. Xero is a responsible custodian of our customers' sensitive data and does not release any data that could identify individual businesses. The data used is aggregated and anonymized to ensure the privacy of Xero subscribers, and their counterparts.

As part of the program, we publish regular blogs and research notes and deep-dive Special Reports on specific small business topics. These can all be found at

Full details of the methodology can be found here.

For all media enquiries, please contact the Xero media team.

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