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Pace of Alberta retail sales matches Canadian average

Pace of Alberta retail sales matches Canadian average

Posted on: 9/25/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

​​Given that many Albertans are still feeling the effects of a soft economy, it would be fair to assume shoppers would be holding on tightly to their spending money. But compared to other provinces, we don’t appear to be holding on any more or less tightly than most other Canadians.

The graph below shows the index of retail spending in four Canadian provinces, along with the Canadian average. The index starts in July 2016, which statistically was the recessionary low point of retail spending in Alberta. The index sets spending in that month equal to a value of 100.

Nationally, Canadian retail spending currently has an index value of 112.0 — which means sales are up 12 per cent. Given that inflation is now running close to 2.5 or 3.0 per cent annually, higher prices account for a little less than half of the two-year increase in spending. (Note: the Consumer Price Index tracks inflation on a wide variety of household goods, including items like rent, home heating and insurance, which are not items captured in “retail sales.”)

Alberta, represented by the heavy blue line in the graph below, is currently at an index value of 112.3, just slightly higher than the Canadian average. British Columbia is up by exactly the national average (112.0), while Ontario is higher (113.1). Saskatchewan is an outlier among this set of provinces. Its retail index value is at 108.7, implying an increase of 8.7 per cent over the last two years.

Retail sales, graph​​

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