Black Friday spending boosts November retail sales

Retail spending in Canada jumped in November as consumers shifted their spending to take advantage of Black Friday promotions.

November retail sales up 1.7% as loonie falls to 75 cents

November sales numbers from Statistics Canada seem to show Canadians spent their money at home on Black Friday. (CBC)

Retail spending in Canada jumped in November as consumers shifted their spending to take advantage of Black Friday promotions.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that sales at electronics retailers rose by 2.1 per cent in the month and sales at clothing and accessories stores rose by 2.2 per cent, attributing part of the increase to Black Friday spending.

Retail sales rose 1.7 per cent in the year to November in constant dollars, which strip out of the effects of inflation. Total sales were $44.3 billion. Strong consumer spending can help stimulate the economy.

The biggest increase in spending was the 3.5 per cent jump at motor vehicle and parts dealers, reflecting the robust demand for new vehicles in Canada. For the year, spending at new car dealers rose 12 per cent and sales at used car dealers rose 26 per cent.

But the rise in Black Friday-related spending seemed to point to a healthy increase in retail spending in the 2015 holiday season. Statistics Canada's December numbers won't arrive for another month.

An increasing number of Canadian retailers are adopting the practice of offering discounts on the Friday after American Thanksgiving.

And there are indications that more Canadians stayed home to take advantage of local bargains, rather than drive to the U.S., according to TD economic analyst Admir Kolaj.

Low dollar kept Canadians home

"In addition to an earlier start to the holiday season, sales were also buoyed by the low Canadian dollar which is helping to keep more spending within Canada," he said in a note to clients.

On Black Friday last year, the Canadian dollar was worth 75 cents US, down from 85 cents in January 2015. That loss of spending power was discouraging cross-border shopping, Kolaj said.

"In November alone, 775,000 fewer Canadians visited the United States compared to year-ago levels — 70 per cent of those being daily visits that are associated with shopping," he said.

November's 75-cent dollar was not yet boosting food prices to punitive levels as the 68-cent dollar has in 2016.

That helped push consumer spending on groceries higher, with retail sales of food and beverages up 1.5 per cent on the month and one per cent on the year.

Retail sales rose in November in every province, but on an annual basis, Alberta sales fell 4.1 per cent and Saskatchewan sales were down one per cent.