indicatorThe Owl

Second and third wave temper consumer spending in Alberta

Over the first four months of the year, Alberta consumers spent about 17 per cent less than they did over the same period in 2019

By ATB Economics 26 May 2021 2 min read

Consumer spending* in Alberta between January and April was well below where it was in both 2019 and 2020.

Over the first four months of the year, Alberta consumers spent about 17 per cent less than they did over the same period in 2019 and about 13 per cent less than they did from January to April 2020 just before and just after the pandemic was declared.

Spending fell as it normally does in January after the Christmas season, but was much lower than it was in January 2020.

Spending increased as spring approached, but it did not climb back to its pre-pandemic level and was also truncated compared to the spending that took place over the second half of 2020.

Consumer spending has been kept in check so far in 2021 by the combined effects of rising COVID-19 cases and the related public health measures; caution on the part of consumers who might otherwise be spending more money; and the accumulated financial stress facing many families and businesses in the province.

Retail sales, on the other hand, have risen above both their pre-pandemic and pandemic levels (at least up to the last retail sales report which was for March). The discrepancy is explained by the fact that spending via debit and credit includes a broader range of options than the wares offered by retail stores in Alberta. For example, spending at restaurants or on hockey tickets are not counted as retail spending by Statistics Canada.

*Consumer spending data in today's Owl was generated by ATB Financial’s Data + AI, Artificial Intelligence Delivery, AI Labs Team. 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, ATB customers are not necessarily fully representative of all consumers in the province. 

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.

Answer to the previous trivia question: There are two landlocked provinces in Canada: Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Today’s trivia question: Which Greek and Roman goddess lends her name to the month of May?

Spending fell as it normally does in January after the Christmas season, but was much lower than it was in January 2020

Spending fell as it normally does in January after the Christmas season, but was much lower than it was in January 2020


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