One of the key economic metrics that has been flat in this province is consumer spending. Most of the time we look at retail sales to assess the performance of this part of the economy, which is an indicator of how the labour market is performing – people with jobs and a steady income tend to spend – as well as the capacity for major purchases like houses and cars. Housing is especially important because it triggers a lot of job creation.
But the latest data on this category give us reason for optimism. We now have July’s numbers and they are up nearly half a point for the month – which exceeds the national growth figures – and up about three per cent compared to last year.
In broad terms, we’ve been seeing almost no change. If there was any change it was marginally lower, so this change of direction is going to be watched carefully.
One month is not a trend, but it is the first time in months that we could say we had a change of any kind and it was to the plus side.