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Economics & Research

​​​​​​​​​The Owl​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The Owl focuses on the day’s top economic news.

ATB Financial’s economics team interprets the latest statistics on wages, employment, inflation, the oil and gas industry and other economic drivers in our province.

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Alberta retail activity still above average

Posted on: January 20, 2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

Recession or not, Albertans love their shopping. Retail sales in November of last year rang in at $6.15 billion—a drop of only two per cent from a year ago (adjusted for seasonality). In terms of dollars spent per person, Alberta still tops the country at $1,441. That compares with the Canadian average of $1,241.

Still, the gap between Alberta and the rest of the country has narrowed. The graph below shows dollars of retail activity per capita in Alberta and Canada over the last two decades. Back in the ‘90s, the gap was much smaller. But with a booming economy in the early part of the 2000s, the gap started to grow. By 2006, Albertans were spending 42 per cent more per person than their fellow Canadians.

With the recession of 2009, spending dropped steeply in both Alberta and Canada. As Alberta’s economy started on another expansionary cycle between 2010 and 2014, the gap started to grow once again. When the recession hit two years ago, spending per person in Alberta started to ease up—not as dramatically as it did in 2009, but falling from a peak of over $1,600 in late 2014 to where it sits currently at around $1,440. The gap between per capita spending is now at 16 per cent.

The main reasons for why Albertans have always spent more? Wages and demographics. Even during the recessions, Alberta employees enjoy higher than average weekly wages. As well, Alberta’s young demographic is significant. Young people and households raising children naturally will spend more.Alberta retail sales, graph

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Alberta Economic Outlo​ok

ATB Financial’s Alberta Economic Outlook summarizes research on Alberta’s most important sectors. It analyzes the province’s economic happenings and outlines what may occur in the next quarter. Read the Outlooks below for the latest on our economy.

Q1 2016 | Q2 2016 | Q3 2016 | Q4 2016

Q1 2015 | Q2 2015 | Q3 2015 | Q4 2015

Q1 2014 |Q2 2014 | Q3 2014 | Q4 2014​​​​​



Each Perch focuses on a topic that’s important to Alberta​ns.

In this edition, we did a survey to understand how much Albertans intend to spend over the holidays and if they are planning to travel. It’s important to know what to expect because the surge in spending that takes place ahead of Christmas is often critical to a retailer’s survival.

So sit back and enjoy. ​​

Read Perch now

The Economic Team​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ (Left to right: Nick Ford, Todd Hirsch and Rob Roach)

Our Economics Team​


Todd Hirsch

Chief Economist

Todd Hirsch is the Chief Economist at ATB Financial. At ATB, Todd spends the bulk of his time sharing the story of Alberta’s economy in clear-eyed and energetic talks across the province and the rest of the country.

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Nick Ford


Nick Ford is an Economist at ATB Financial. Nick joined ATB’s Economics and Research team in February 2014 where he researches, tracks and reports on economic indicators and trends that impact Albertans.

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Rob Roach

Director of Insight

As a Director of Insight with ATB Financial’s Economics and Research team, Rob examines the economic and social forces that affect Albertans’ quality of life.

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 ATB's Extended Reports


Tightening Santa's belt

Holiday spending and travel intentions (December 2016)

Read the report.

Preparing for success

Post-secondary education in Alberta (September 2016)

Read the report.

Selling our wares

Alberta's international exports (May 2016)

Read the report.

Happiness in Alberta

The full results of ATB Financial’s Alberta Happiness Survey (June 2015)

Read the report.

Hanging out your shingle

Self-employment in Alberta (November 2015)

Read the report.

People power

Population trends in Alberta (March 2016)

Read the report.

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