When we track retail sales or consumer spending patterns, the all-important Christmas season is what everyone is looking at. Will it be up or down? And when does the Christmas buying season begin – September, October, November? Or does it wait until December?
So that means we have a lot of interest in the retail community in the run-up to Christmas. We now have November’s figures and they have been skewed.
If you filled up your car with gas in the past few months, you’ll know that fuel prices are going down. As a result, it has lowered retail sales in virtually every province – down by as much as five per cent, as volumes of fuel purchases also decreased.
In Saskatchewan – a province where we do a lot of driving and have long distances to cover – changes in the price of fuel can have a big influence on our spending patterns. And it was noticeable in the November figures. Total retail spending dropped by a third of a point. That was not the biggest decline in the country by a long shot, but we were one of eight provinces that saw a reduction.