Retail sales growth uneven across sectors

By ATB Economics 23 October 2019 1 min read

Although seasonally-adjusted retail sales in Alberta managed to creep up by 0.1 per cent in August compared to July, spending was down by 0.6 per cent compared to the previous August. This was the fourth contraction in a row with year-over-year sales down by $41 million.

High unemployment and consumer caution in the face of a weak economy are contributing factors to the weak sales this year, but lower prices at the pumps account for the overall reduction in sales. Spending at gasoline stations was off by 14.6 per cent ($149 million) compared to August 2018. If gasoline stations are removed from the equation, retail spending (on an unadjusted basis) was up by 2.4 per cent compared to the previous August.

Sales were also down for electronics and appliance stores (-6.1 per cent), and for building material and garden stores (-0.7 per cent).

Sales went up in the other major sub-sectors, including motor vehicle and parts dealers (+4.0 per cent), food and beverage stores (+2.5 per cent), and clothing stores (+2.3 per cent).

Nationally, retail sales slipped by 0.1 per cent in August compared to July, but were up by 1.1 per cent ($582 million) compared to last year.

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