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Alberta retail sales climb in July to $6.4BThursday, September 24, 2015 > 09:33:17
Retail sales in Alberta rose 0.5 per cent in July to $6.4 billion, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.
Despite the gain, sales remained below the peak reached in September 2014 and were down 3.7 per cent year-over-year — the largest annual decline in the country.
Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial, said retail sales and housing statistics best reflect consumer sentiment in the province.
“Sales in Alberta slid hard last year starting in October, landing with a thud in January of this year. Over those four months alone, retailers watched nearly six per cent of sales evaporate,” he said. “The impact of falling oil prices and job losses in the province was taking hold.
“But since the beginning of the year, sales have essentially flatlined — rising a bit, then falling back, and now rising once again.”
One reason could be pent-up demand, Hirsch said. Shoppers can stop buying discretionary items indefinitely, but other non-discretionary items like clothes, appliances, or even automobiles have to be replaced eventually.
“At the start of the downturn last fall, some Albertans may have abruptly pulled back on buying such items. But pent-up demand kicks in at some point, and shoppers are forced to make the purchase — confident or not,” he said.
Nationally, Statistics Canada said retail sales rose for the third consecutive month, up 0.5 per cent to $43.3 billion. On an annual basis, sales were up by 1.8 per cent across the country.
BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic said the shakeup from lower oil prices on the retail landscape remains fully evident but on the national scale “a decent retail sales report suggests that the Canadian economy continued to rebound in July.”