Albertans spend more than rest of Canada despite economic slump
Province's young population drives up retail spending, ATB chief economist says
Even in the midst of a punishing economic downturn, Albertans still spend more than people in any other province, says the chief economist at ATB.
Todd Hirsch says while many Albertans have curtailed their spending somewhat since the price of oil plummeted and put thousands out of work, retail sales in November topped $6.34 billion.
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"That was up slightly from October, but down four per cent from November of 2014," he said.
"Over the last complete 12 months, total sales are down 2.5 per cent from the previous period."
Alberta leads all provinces in dollars spent per person, and it's mostly due to demographics, Hirsch says.
"While Alberta's unemployment rate has risen, 93 per cent of the labour force is still actively employed," he said, noting Alberta also has the lowest median age population.
"That means there are proportionately more people in their 20s and 30s — the prime time of life for starting families, buying homes and spending money."
In November, sales per capita in Alberta was $1,503.
Newfoundland and Labrador was second with sales per capita of $1,465. The national average was $1,230.
Hirsch says the gap between Alberta's per capita spending and the national average is closing, however.
"Back in 2007, Albertans spent 43 per cent more than the average Canadian. At the start of 2014, the gap was 37 per cent. And last November, it was 22 per cent," he said.