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Alberta retail sales soar to highest annual growth rate in Canada $5.7 billion in sales in July

Alberta’s retail industry continues to show strong gains.

Photograph by: Colleen De Neve , Calgary Herald

CALGARY — Alberta retail sales reached just over $5.7 billion in July with the highest year-over-year growth rate in the country.

Statistics Canada reported Tuesday that retail sales in the province rose by 9.2 per cent from July 2011. They were also up 1.4 per cent from the previous month.

Todd Hirsch, senior economist with ATB Financial, said the July increase more than offset a drop from May to June, and now represents a new record high for spending in the province.

“The rise in Alberta’s retail activity in July is encouraging and shows that there’s still plenty of consumer confidence out there. Still, the rate of increase has cooled,” said Hirsch. “Since October, sales are higher by only 2.5 per cent. On balance, the moderation in the provincial economy is good news and is consistent with other indicators that suggest Alberta is in healthy shape —and not overheating.”

Across Canada, the federal agency said retail sales rose 0.7 per cent to $39.0 billion in July. The increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, and general merchandise stores.

Year-over-year, sales were up 3.0 per cent.

“Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers increased 1.7 per cent in July,” said Statistics Canada of the national data. “Higher receipts at new car dealers (1.7 per cent) accounted for most of this gain. This was the first notable increase at new car dealers since the peak in January 2012. Sales in the ‘other motor vehicle dealers’ industry, which includes retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats, increased 2.8 per cent after three consecutive monthly declines.”

Robert Kavcic, economist with BMO Capital Markets, said a solid July report suggests that consumer spending growth picked up in the third quarter from the second quarter’s “tepid pace.”

Emanuella Enenajor, with CIBC World Markets, said retail sales gains were broad-based, including merchandise stores, gasoline stations and building materials. Vehicle sales also gained, after several months of weakness.

“All provinces registered gains – highlighting the broad-based nature of July’s uptick,” she said.

Diana Petramala, economist with TD Economics, said consumers have had to grapple with a number of challenges in the first half of the year, including economic uncertainty, high household debt levels, a cooling housing market and an additional hit to wealth due to the slump in global financial markets.

“Given all the weakness in the first half of the year, it’s not that surprising to see retail sales pick up. The good news is that with improvements in market sentiment, some of the clouds overhanging the consumer should lift in the second half of this year,” she said.

“Nonetheless, households are still going to be strapped down by record debt levels and the slowdown in housing. Areas more closely tied to housing – such as furniture and home hardware stores – are likely to feel the brunt of a more cautious consumer. Overall, we expect consumer spending growth to pick up to a two per cent pace in the second half of this year. That’s better than the measly one per cent average quarterly pace experienced in the first half of the year, but remains well below the rates experienced prior to the recession.”

Read more:http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Alberta+retail+sales+soar+highest+annual+growth+rate+Canada/7295306/story.html#ixzz27Xezug1o

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