Retail spending is one of the more effective tools for measuring consumer sentiment or mood but even this metric can prove troublesome as the pandemic has distorted activity in many markets. In Central Canada, for example, lockdowns and curfews have changed the way people spend money.
Here in Saskatchewan, where the lockdowns have been among the least invasive, the pandemic is proving to be a minor factor in the way consumers go about their daily lives. In fact, we are spending more now than we were in comparable periods before the pandemic.
The latest figures are from January and this year’s total volume of retail spending was $80 million higher than in the same month in 2020, before the pandemic was declared.
That translates into a 5-percent gain, a smaller increase than in most regions but considerably higher than either Ontario or Quebec where lockdown measures have resulted in consumer spending reductions in the double-digit range as retailers in the biggest cities continue to face an uphill battle.