indicatorThe Owl

A soft year for retail sales in Alberta

When we adjust for inflation, annual sales in the province were down 2.3 per cent, or $1.9 billion, in 2019.

By ATB Economics 21 February 2020 1 min read

Seasonally adjusted retail sales in Alberta rose by 1.0 per cent in December compared to the previous month, but this was not enough to prevent annual sales from contracting by 0.9 per cent. When we adjust for inflation, annual sales in the province were down 2.3 per cent, or $1.9 billion, in 2019.

Keeping seasonal variations in spending in play, unadjusted sales during the Christmas shopping season of November and December were off by 2.9 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018. The difference rises to 4.3 per cent when we take inflation into account. 

Using Christmas shopping as a gauge of overall consumer confidence heading into the new year, we might see weak sales in the province during the first part of 2020.

Lower gasoline prices saw sales at gas stations fall by close to a billion dollars for an annual decrease of 8.9 per cent. Electronics and appliance stores experienced the largest proportional drop in annual sales at 11.1 per cent ($246.3 million).

Propelled by the introduction of legal cannabis, sales in the miscellaneous sector grew by 15.0 per cent ($283.8 million), with cannabis stores accounting for 78.9 per cent ($224 million) of that growth. Other sectors that saw growth were health and personal care stores (+4.0 per cent), clothing stores (+2.1 per cent) and food and beverage stores (+1.3 per cent).

Nationally, retail sales were flat in December with annual sales posting a 1.6 per cent increase. Taking inflation into account, annual sales only managed to grow by 0.1 per cent.

Retail sales in Alberta

Seasonally adjusted retail sales in Alberta rose by 1.0 per cent in December.


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