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Retail sales start 2018 on a record high

Retail sales start 2018 on a record high

Posted on: 3/23/2018 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

​​Albertans’ debit and credit cards were a bit busier in January as retail sales reached a record high in the province. Total sales reached $6.8 billion to start the year—this number is adjusted for seasonality. Compared to the beginning of 2017, sales were 2.1 per cent higher at the start of 2018.

In per capita terms, Albertans outspent the rest of the country at malls and gas stations by an average of $224 per month in January. This difference can be explained by a number of elements like a higher employment rate and higher incomes. The difference also accentuates the strength of the provincial economy, even after a significant recessionary period.

The fact that retail sales have started the year on a record high is proof the recession of 2015/16 is well behind us. However, our province may experience some pullback in spending as the year progresses. This could be due to a couple of factors. First, the provincial unemployment rate is expected to come down only gradually. Many Albertans may still be without work which could affect spending. Second, with higher interest rates and mounting household debt, consumers could react by spending less. As a result, sales growth will likely begin to slow.

Retail sales, graph

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