Sask. shoppers spend $1.63B in September – up 4.6% from last year
26 Nov 2014
BRUCE JOHNSTONE — With files from The Canadian Press
Sask. shoppers spend $1.63B in September
REGINA — Saskatchewan shoppers weren’t deterred by signs of an economic slowdown as they racked up $1.63 billion in retail sales in September, a healthy 4.6 per cent increase over the same period last year, Statistics Canada said Tuesday.
The year-over-year sales increase was slightly ahead of the national increase of 4.5 per cent, while the monthly increase of 0.8 per cent from August was on par with the national increase, the federal agency said.
United Steelworkers economist Erin Weir noted Saskatchewan retail sales were outperformed by the other prairie provinces in September. From August to September, retail sales rose by one per cent in Alberta and 1.2 per cent in Manitoba, while year-over-year sales grew by 4.8 per cent in Manitoba and 7.4 per cent in Alberta.
But Doug Elliott, publisher of Sask Trends Monitor, was surprised at the strength of retail sales given the decline in some other economic indicators, such as farm cash receipts, which were down 15 per cent in the first quarter, reflecting the grain transportation backlog and lower commodity prices.
Economic growth, as measured by real gross domestic product (GDP), is expected to fall to one per cent in 2014 after posting five per cent growth in 2013 — the secondhighest growth rate among the provinces. Since 2009, the province has averaged 4.5 per cent real GDP growth — again second-highest next to Alberta.
“The unadjusted (retail sales) numbers were up 8.1 per cent (over September 2013), so this was a good month,” said Elliott. “This one surprised me because I was expecting a slowdown because of the commodity prices and farm receipts. … This is the largest increase in over a year.”
Elliott said retail sales were strong across the board with increases in 12 of 13 categories. On a year-overyear, unadjusted basis, motor vehicle dealers saw a 12 per cent increase in sales in September; beer, wine and liquor sales were up 11 per cent; furniture stores were up 16 per cent; and general merchandise stores 13 per cent. “The only weakness was clothing stores (down two per cent) and grocery stores were up only 0.3 per cent, so they’re flat.”
Elliott suspects retail sales will begin to slow next year, when the impact of slower economic growth and lower commodity prices starts to affect wages and job growth.