Consumers in Saskatchewan opened their wallets in March and spent more than $1.6 billion that month. That was up more than two per cent, one of the better showings in the country, which also turned in a strong performance. Retail spending was up in nine provinces – only Manitoba saw a pull back.
StatsCan, which tracks these numbers, says a significant portion of the increase can be traced to the automotive sector. Rising gasoline prices were a factor, but strength that was evident in new vehicle sales a month earlier fell back. So the overall increase was led by automotive, but more widely distributed to other sectors.
Saskatchewan’s 2.1-per-cent monthly increase was quite a shift as it accounts of the majority of the 2.6-per-cent improvement we saw in the past year. Basically, three-quarters of the year’s gain came in March, which suggests consumers were addressing pent up demand. While we have been seeing improvements in this metric lately, the growth rate was modest as consumers were cautious.
The March figures suggest some loosening of the purse strings.