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Retail activity dips in August

Retail activity dips in August

Posted on: 10/20/2017 | Author:  

After shaking off the recession blues in the spring of this year, shoppers in Alberta curbed their enthusiasm somewhat over the summer months.

In August, total retail sales slipped to $6.74 billion (adjusted for seasonality). That follows a similar drop in July after sales hit an all-time record high in June.

However, despite the small pullback over the summer, total sales in the province remain solidly above the lows hit during the recession. Over the last complete 12 months, sales are 5.3 per cent higher compared to the previous 12-month period.

Retail activity is an excellent barometer of the general mood of citizens, and the graph below clearly illustrates the impact the recession had on consumer sentiment. After reaching an all-time record high in October of 2014, the economy started to buckle under the weight of plunging oil prices. Even though jobs did not start disappearing until 2015, consumers sensed the impending recession and pulled back sharply on spending. Retail spending continued to slump throughout 2015 and the first half of 2016, hitting a low in July of last year.

But as the recession’s grip eased up, consumers returned to the malls, big box stores and car dealerships. Sales started to climb last fall and reached a new all-time record high in June of this year. Some of that may have been prompted by pent-up consumer demand—that is, at a certain point many consumer items simply need to be replaced, even if shoppers aren’t in the mood to spend.

Retail sales, graph

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