Calgary

Albertans' retail spending still outpaces the rest of Canada, despite downturn

New numbers from Statistics Canada show Albertans are spending less than they used to, but they are still out-shopping other Canadians.

'They haven't changed their spending habits at all,' downtown Calgary book store owner says of customers

Despite the recent recession, Albertans are still shopping more, per capita, than Canadians, as a whole. (The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz)

Despite the downturn, Alberta still tops the country when it comes to retail sales.

New numbers from Statistics Canada show Albertans are spending less than they used to, but they are still out-shopping other Canadians.

Retail sales in the province totalled $6.15 billion in November, which is down about two per cent from the same month a year earlier.

But it's still about 16 per cent more, per capita, than the Canadian average.

Robert Angus, who owns a book store in downtown Calgary, isn't surprised by the numbers.

He said business has slowed during the downturn, but he still has a loyal customer base. 

"I would think that it mostly has to do with the fact that people still have money ... and that even when times are down they're still spending," he said.

"Like, they haven't changed their spending habits at all."

Young people, high earnings

Todd Hirsch, chief economist with ATB Financial, said average weekly earnings in Alberta remain the highest in the country, which has a lot to do with the province's still-strong retail trade.

"For employees who still working, those paycheques haven't really shrunk too much," he said.

"So, high average weekly earnings in Alberta have helped fuel that spending."

Hirsch said Alberta's younger demographics are also a factor, as young families tend to spend more setting up households and raising children.

The median age of Albertans is 36.3, according to Statistics Canada, which is the lowest among all the provinces.

The national median age is 40.6.

With files from Alison Dempster

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