Published On: Sat, Jun 23rd, 2018

Bad Weather Sees Canadian Retail Sales Decline at a 2 Year Low

A spate of bad weather has been blamed for Canadian Retail sales falling by their largest amount for over two years. Canadian retail sales fell by 1.2 percent in April on a month on month basis, considerably less than the 0.0 percent predicted by analysts. When excluding auto sales, Canadian retail sales fell by 0.1 percent in April, far lower than the 0.2 percent increase predicted by analysts. Aprils decline is the largest fall since the 1.3 percent fall recorded in March 2016.

Rail corridor Trinity – Niagara, Toronto, Ontario photo/ Chester via wikimedia commons

Pushing the figures lower were the sales of vehicles and auto parts which dropped by 4.3% Being blamed was unusually cold weather in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province and home to most of its auto industry. The bad weather managed to keep people away from the shops as retailers in the building material, garden equipment and office supplies Toronto and other cities recorded a 3.3 percent decline.

Overall, sales were lower in eight of the 11 retail subsectors, constituting 65 percent of total Canadian retail sales trade. Once the effects of prices changes were stripped out, sales volume fell by 1.4 percent.

The disappointing retail sales figures were released the same day that the Canadian inflation figures were released. Statistics Canada reported that the consumer price index posted an annual inflation rate of 2.2 percent in May, a figure that was unchanged from April but far lower than market expectations for a 2.6 percent increase.

The weak retail sales and inflation data follows hot on the heels of poor manufacturing sales and employment data releases from the world’s 10th largest economy by GDP. Although bad weather has been blamed for the sharp downturn in retail sales, it will be interesting to see whether those numbers bounce back now that the weather has been improved.

Derek Holt, an economist at Scotiabank said in a note to investors: “I strongly suspect that weather played a role in tamping down inflation given softness in classic weather related categories like clothing and tourism. This should be temporary.”

Next month may well turn out to be an important month for the Canadian economy. The Bank of Canada is due to meet next month, and it is widely anticipated that the central bank will raise interest rates at their July 11th meet.

Dawn Desjardins, deputy chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada said: “Yeah, we have some bumps in the data but overall we are running along close to the economy’s potential. We are still good for a hike next month, but it may be a more dovish tone.”

Next month may also the imposition of the much hyped ‘Trump Tariffs’ which if carried through will impose a 25 percent levy on Canadian cars exported to the US. Such a move could threaten the 180,000 Canadians currently employed in the auto industry as well an estimated 0.6% off the Canadian GDP.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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