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Retail hits a new record high

Retail hits a new record high

Posted on: 8/22/2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

Alberta shoppers appear to have finally thrown off the recessionary blues, at least according to the latest data released from Statistics Canada.

In June, retailers in the province rang in nearly $6.9 billion in sales (adjusted for seasonality). That smashes through the previous record of $6.7 billion set in October 2014, just prior to the recession. Compared to a year ago, sales are up a whopping 11 per cent.

Even though a new record high has been set, retailers have a long way to go before they might start feeling like things are back to normal. The heavy blue line in the graph below shows actual retail sales in Alberta over the last six years. The recessionary dip is evident as shoppers slammed the brakes on spending in 2015. Since then, sales have picked up.

The thin red line shows the pre-recession trend in sales over the three years leading up to the peak set in 2014—and extends that trend to the present. In other words, it shows what retail spending in Alberta would have been had the province not experienced the recession and sales had continued to increase at the same pace. In that case, sales in June would have been about $8.4 billion—about 22 per cent higher.

So even though retail sales have finally picked up where they left off prior to the oil price collapse, retailers in Alberta could be forgiven for feeling that they still have a lot of catching up to do.

Alberta retail sales, graph

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