Buoyed by nation-leading GDP growth, low unemployment and a strong U.S. dollar, 2016 is proving to be an impressive year for British Columbia’s retail sector – and this success is set to continue into 2017.
According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada, British Columbia’s seasonally adjusted, year-to-date retail sales to October were worth $62.2 billion, an increase of $3.9 billion or 6.6% compared with the same period in 2015.
With an increase of 6.6%, B.C.’s retail sales growth for the first 10 months of 2016 is first among provinces in Canada and is well above the average Canadian increase of 3.8%. This performance is expected to continue in 2017, with many economic forecasters predicting B.C. will again lead the national average in retail sales growth.
The Conference Board of Canada is forecasting retail sales in B.C. will grow by 3.9% next year, well above the 2.7% forecasted growth for Canada. At 5.2%, Desjardins has B.C. leading Canada in this category, a full two percentage points above the national average. RBC Economics expects retail sales will go up in B.C. by 3.5% in 2017 compared with the Canadian average of 3.3%. And with a 5.0% increase, TD Economics expects that B.C. will again lead the country in this key economic indicator in 2017.
Why is retail sales growth important? First, more than 365,000 people worked directly in the retail and wholesale trade sector in November 2016, accounting for more than one-tenth of all jobs in British Columbia.
In addition, 10% of all small businesses were in wholesale and retail trade in 2015. Small businesses are a vital thread in the fabric of the province’s economy and are key to B.C.’s economic success. Their success is vital in supporting local communities and neighbourhoods.
Also, investors keep a sharp eye on retail sales. A positive trend in retail sales bodes well for other sectors of the economy, such as manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, along with construction.
In addition to strong retail sales growth, some economists at Canada’s leading banks also forecast that British Columbia will outperform the country in job growth, and real GDP growth in 2017. This positive economic news builds on B.C.’s triple-A credit rating and strong fiscal management.
Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour –
“Retail sales are a key indicator on how well an economy is performing and a reflection on consumer confidence. B.C. is in an enviable position in Canada, currently leading the country in retail sales, which in turn have a positive impact on our small businesses particularly during the holiday season.”
- 369,000: Average number of British Columbians who worked in the retail and wholesale trade industry from January to November 2016, an increase of 17,100 positions or 4.8% compared with the same period in 2015.
- $13.2 billion: Real GDP (dollar value) of B.C.’s retail industry within the provincial economy in 2015.