indicatorThe Owl

Consumer spending in Alberta during COVID-19

Spending began to move back up over the course of April and was above pre-shock levels by late May

By ATB Economics 19 August 2020 2 min read

After falling during the COVID-19 lockdown, daily consumer spending levels in Alberta have recovered and are even higher than they were before the pandemic.

Between the peak reached on March 14 and the low set on April 5, daily spending fell by 31 per cent. Spending began to move back up over the course of April and was above pre-shock levels by late May.

It remains to be seen if the upswing represents a burst of pent-up spending that will taper off in the months ahead or a more sustained trend, but there has been some pullback in July compared to June.

On a year-over-year basis, total consumer spending in June 2020 was 5.2 per cent higher than in June 2019, but down by 0.6 per cent in July.

The changes in spending brought on by the pandemic have been unevenly distributed across categories. For example, spending on travel experienced the largest drop and remains far below pre-pandemic levels. Spending at grocery stores spiked during the lockdown but has since moved closer to where it was before COVID-19 came to Alberta.

It is important to stress that the rise in consumer spending—while a welcome development for retailers—does not mean that things are “back to normal.” Overhead costs, profit margins, online shopping and other factors that play into the bottom line of retailers have also been affected by the pandemic.

If you are interested in the future of the financial services sector that facilitates the legion of consumer transactions that take place everyday in Alberta and around the world, you might want to check out ATB’s The Future Of podcast as the latest episodes zero-in on what’s next for the banking industry.

NOTE: The unique data in today's Owl were generated by the ATB Financial, Data + AI, Artificial Intelligence Delivery, AI Labs Team.

In order to smooth-out weekly seasonalities, 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. It gives an indication of the spending patterns in Alberta during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it may differ from the overall spending patterns in Alberta because ATB Financial customers are not fully representative of the population and economy 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.

Between the peak reached on March 14 and the low set on April 5, daily spending fell by 31 per cent

Between the peak reached on March 14 and the low set on April 5, daily spending fell by 31 per cent


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