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More presents under the tree this year? Maybe!

More presents under the tree this year? Maybe!

Posted on: 12/21/2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

It’s too early to tell if Albertans are spending more on Christmas presents this year, but new data suggests that some of us may have more gifts to unwrap.

That’s because Alberta total retail sales reached another record high in October. That month, retailers rang in $6.81 billion in sales (adjusted for seasonality). That surpasses the previous record set in June of this year ($6.79 billion) by 0.2 per cent. Over the last complete 12 months, sales were almost seven per cent cent higher than they were in the previous 12-month period. On a year-over-year basis, sales are up nearly eight per cent.

Compared to last year, the majority of growth within Alberta’s retail sector has occurred at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+17.4 per cent) as well as at building material, garden equipment and supplies stores (+12.8 per cent). In fact, all subsectors of retail except two are higher than last year.

The two retailers to post lower sales compared to last year are food and beverage stores (-1.6 per cent) and miscellaneous retailers. This subsector is made up of florists, office supplies, stationery stores, pets and gifts and is down significantly from last year (-13.5 per cent).

After reaching a couple of record highs this year, retail sales may begin to slow in 2018. Slower retail activity next year will be a result of a lingering economic recovery but also because of mounting debt levels and rising borrowing costs. Consumers in our province continue to shop ahead of the holiday season, and that may mean more gifts under the tree.

Retail sales in Alberta, graph

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