Retails sales surge in June
Alberta’s seasonally adjusted monthly retail sales roared back in May and June as stores reopened and pushed monthly spending above the pre-pandemic level by 3 per cent
By ATB Economics 21 August 2020 1 min read
Retail sales in Alberta have surpassed the pre-pandemic level set in February.
Down by 28 per cent in April compared to February, Alberta’s seasonally adjusted monthly retail sales roared back in May and June as stores reopened and pushed monthly spending above the pre-pandemic level by 3 per cent.
There is still some catching up to do as total sales in the province over the first six months of the year were down by 8 per cent ($3.3 billion) compared to the same period last year.
The national picture is much the same with sales down by 32 per cent in April compared to February, but back to 1 per cent above the pre-pandemic level by June. On a year-to-date basis, retail sales in Canada were down by 8 per cent ($23.5 billion) compared to the first half of 2019.
The rise in monthly sales is a welcome development for retailers and a sign that the economy is in recovery mode.
But will it last?
A preliminary estimate provided by Statistics Canada for national retail sales pegs the growth in July at just 0.7 per cent and suggests that the burst of renewed spending in May and June may have plateaued. Stubbornly high unemployment levels in Alberta may keep a lid on sales growth over the balance of the year.
Still, even modest growth going forward is much better than the severe contractions that took place in the spring. As with so many other things, the path of COVID-19 and the public health measures aimed at containing it will be a key factor affecting the future direction of retail sales.