indicatorThe Owl

Alberta consumer spending strong in December

The higher spending in December was not enough to keep annual sales from falling below the 2019 level

By ATB Economics 26 February 2021 2 min read

Retailers were hoping for a strong December to help make up for losses earlier in the year due to the pandemic and Alberta consumers obliged.

Average daily consumer spending* in Alberta was up by 2.5 per cent in December 2020 compared to December 2019.

The higher spending in December was not, however, enough to keep annual sales from falling below the 2019 level. Consumers in Alberta spent about 3.7 per cent less last year than in 2019.

Unadjusted consumer spending always falls in January compared to the Christmas spike (and January 2021 was no exception), so it’s important to examine how spending has changed vis-à-vis the previous January. When we do this, we find that spending was down in January 2021 by one-fifth (20.1 per cent) compared to 12 months earlier.

The drop coincides with strict public health restrictions in place in the province during January and may also reflect consumer hesitancy due to concerns over the second wave of the pandemic.

The results of Statistics Canada’s survey of retail stores paints a similar picture in terms of what happened over Christmas and how total spending in 2020 stacked up to 2019.

According to the survey, retail sales in Alberta were up by 5.2 per cent in December 2020 compared to the previous December.

On an annual basis, the Statistics Canada numbers show a drop in retail spending in Alberta of 2.3 per cent in 2020.

Answer to the previous trivia question: Customers located in Ohio bought the most wheat from Alberta in 2020. Ohioans purchased $33.6 million of Alberta wheat followed by New Yorkers at $32.5 million.

Today’s trivia question: According to Statistics Canada, 66 per cent of Canadians live within 100 km of the southern Canada–United States border. Approximately how far away is Edmonton from the U.S. border?

*The average daily consumer spending data in today's Owl was generated by ATB Financial’s Data + AI, Artificial Intelligence Delivery, AI Labs Team. In order to smooth out regular day-to-day fluctuations, daily spending figures are an average of the previous two weeks.

The analysis is based on aggregate debit and credit card spending data of consumer customers of ATB Financial. While the data provide an indication of spending patterns in Alberta during the COVID-19 pandemic, ATB customers are not necessarily fully representative of all consumers in Alberta.

Protecting the privacy, security and personal information of ATB customers is not just our number one priority—it is at the heart of our corporate values and commitment to Albertans. The data used in this report are aggregated, do not contain personal information, and cannot be used to identify customers or merchants. For more information about our commitment to customer privacy, please visit our website.

Consumer spending in Alberta was down in January 2021 by 20.1 per cent compared to 12 months earlier

Consumer spending in Alberta was down in January 2021 by 20.1 per cent compared to 12 months earlier

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