When provincial governments tighten up the rules on personal contact and movement, one way to track whether people are obeying the new rules is to follow their spending patterns.
Two banks have just released their tracking of consumer and business activity through the Christmas period and into the first ten days of January. And, it would appear, the government-imposed COVID fighting restrictions are having an effect on consumer activity.
First of all, both saw a decline in spending through the Christmas period but it picked up again in early January. They aren’t sure what caused the movements but one red flag that did show up was a sharp drop in rent payments at the beginning of January.
And you can see the policy differences between provinces. Although we have fewer people, we tend to have a larger economy than Manitoba but the gap was accentuated when the Pallister government imposed tighter lockdown rules than were experiencing in Saskatchewan….consequently, consumer spending here was going up as we entered the new year while Manitoba was flat to declining.