indicatorThe Owl

A sign of things to come?

Retail sales slowed in February

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 24 April 2023 1 min read

Some cracks in consumer spending seem to be forming.

Seasonally-adjusted retail sales in Alberta ticked down for the first time in five months in February.

Helped along by lower gasoline prices, retail sales revenue in the province fell by 0.9% compared to January.

Sales remained, however, well-above (+10.2%) where they stood the previous February.

Nationally, retail sales contracted by 0.2% compared to January with revenue down in six provinces.

At 3.3%, British Columbia’s retail sector posted the largest decrease.

Year-over-year sales in Canada, however, were 4.3% higher in February 2023 than in February 2022.

After rising in December (+0.7%) and January (+1.7%), the seasonally-adjusted volume* of national sales (i.e., with price changes removed) was down by 0.7% in February.

While not good news for retailers, the pullback in retail sales in February is a sign that the economy may cool off enough to keep the inflation rate coming down as we get deeper into the year.

With that said, retail sales are a lagging indicator and we won’t know if the slowdown observed in February is the start of a trend until we get more data.

To this end, Statistics Canada has provided an advance estimate of retail sales that “suggests” national sales decreased by 1.4% in March.

*Unfortunately, statistics on the change in the volume of retail sales are not available at the provincial level.

Answer to the previous trivia question: Zellers was acquired by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) in 1978.

Today’s trivia question: The value of “the best foregone alternative that was not chosen” is known as what in the study of economics?

Seasonally-adjusted retail sales in Alberta fell by 0.9% in Febraury 2023 compared to January 2023

Seasonally-adjusted retail sales in Alberta fell by 0.9% in Febraury 2023 compared to January 2023


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