Canadian retail sales increased 3.6% m/m on a seasonally-adjusted basis in March. Sales were higher in 10 of 11 sub-sectors, led by higher sales at garden equipment and building stores.  Excluding more volatile sectors like motor-vehicles and gasoline sales , retail sales were up 4.7% in February.  Statistics Canada also released a preliminary estimate for April showing retail sales declined 5.1% as enhanced "circuit-breaker" measures were implemented in many provinces to stem the third wave of COVID-19.

In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were down 1.1% m/m as COVID-19 cases surged through the month of March. Retail sales fell 2% m/m in Metro Vancouver . On a non-seasonally adjusted basis,  BC retail sales were up by 20% compared to the same time last year.   

In March, Canadian e-commerce sales rose 58.5% year-over-year to $3.7 billion, accounting for 6.3% of total retail sales. The share of e-commerce was down 0.7 percentage points  as more brick-and-mortar stores were open to in-person shopping.

Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose to a ten-year high of 3.4% year-over-year in April, up from 2.2% in March.  Much of the increase in inflation was the result of base-year effects as prices posted a steep decline during April of last year during the first few months of the pandemic-induced shutdown.  For example, gasoline prices were 62.5% higher in April 2021 than in April 2020.  On a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis, the CPI was up 0.6% in April. In BC, consumer prices were up 0.2% month-over-month and up 3% compared to April 2020.

While inflation is currently running higher than the Bank of Canada's 2 per cent target, much of the increase looks to be temporary and should fade as base-year effects become less significant in coming months.  Measures of core inflation, which strip out more volatile prices, are also up slightly. The Bank of Canada's three preferred measures of core inflation were trending at  2.1% or 0.2 points above inflation in March.  How inflation evolves over the next 3 to 6 months will be very important for the  stance of monetary policy over the next year.  If higher inflation is not just a temporary phenomenon but is being driven by an over-stimulated economy, than we could see the Bank of Canada act on interest rates prior to 2023.  However, if the uptick in inflation starts to fade in coming months, we expect the Bank will stay its current course.


Vancouver, BC – May 12, 2021. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 13,683 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in April 2021, an increase of 312.3 per cent over April 2020 when the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a lockdown of the provincial economy. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $946,606, a 29.1 per cent increase from $733,330 recorded in April 2020. Total sales dollar volume was $12.9 billion, a 432.2 per cent increase from last year.

“Although provincial home sales were down slightly from an all-time high in March, sales activity was the highest on record for April,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “Home sales continue on a record pace, though we do see a calming environment compared to the frenzied activity of recent months.”

Total active residential listings were down 14.5 per cent year-over-year in April but did tick higher on a seasonally adjusted basis for the second consecutive month as new listings activity ramped up.

"We are starting to see very strong new listings activity in several markets,” said Ogmundson, “however, it will take quite some time for total listings to return to the level needed to balance out markets and temper growth in home prices.”


Canadian employment fell by 207,000 jobs in April (-1.1%, m/m), following a 303,000 gain in March. The level of Canadian employment is now 2.7% (-503k) below its February 2020 pre-pandemic level. The decline in April reflects the implementation of public health measures in Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec.  The national unemployment rate increased percentage 0.6 points to 8.1%.

In BC, employment fell by 43,100 (-1.6%, m/m) in April following a gain of 35k in January.  The provincial unemployment rate rose 0.2 points to 7.1%. The overwhelming majority of those job losses were in part-time work as restaurants closed for in-person dining and other "circuit breaker" restrictions took hold in the province. The decline in April was the first month of job losses since April 2020. Most of the job losses were in Vancouver where employment fell by 26,000 (-1.7%,m/m) in April.


US Real GDP Growth (Q4'2016) - January 27, 2017

US real GDP growth registered a weaker than expected 1.9 per cent growth the final quarter of 2016, and 1.6 per cent growth for the year as a whole.  Growth was pulled lower by a widening US trade deficit, while consumer demand and business investment were robust. Most economists expect US economic growth to accelerate to about 2.2 per cent in 2017.

The pace of economic growth in the United States could be a key determinant in the BC housing market this year. While faster US growth is generally positive for the BC economy, a stronger pace of growth along with a possibly significant shift in the fiscal outlook due to the large tax cuts and ramped-up spending plans of the Trump administration, is already translating to rising long-term interest rates as markets anticipate higher inflation and consequent monetary tightening by the US Federal Reserve. In turn, that uptrend in rates is putting pressure on Canadian mortgage rates, with many lenders increasing their best offered rates. 


Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

Canadian Retail Sales - January 20, 2017

Canadian retail sales inched 0.2 per cent higher in November.  Sales were higher in just 5 of 11 sub-sectors, with motor vehicle and parts dealers and building materials supplies leading the way.  E-commerce sales accounted for 3 per cent of total retail sales, the highest proportion to date in 2016.  Given today's data,  we are currently tracking fourth quarter Canadian real GDP growth at 1.5 per cent. 

In BC, retail sales were down 0.7 per cent on a monthly basis, but were 5.5 per cent higher year-over-year.  Year-to-date, retail sales in the province are up 6.5 per cent. 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

Canadian Manufacturing Sales - January 19, 2017

Canadian manufacturing sales rose 1.5 per cent in November after posting a moderate decline the previous month.  Sales were higher in 14 of 21 manufacturing sub-sectors. After adjusting for inflation, the total volume of sales was 1.2 per cent higher. 

In BC, where the manufacturing sector is a significant employer and a key driver of economic growth, sales were up 2.4 per cent on a monthly basis and 9.2 per cent year-over-year. The manufacturing sector has been on a significant upswing after a slow first half with sales posting nearly 8 per cent growth over the second half of the year. That growth is adding to already strong momentum in other sectors and supporting housing demand across BC communities where manufacturing, particularly of forestry products, is an important driver of local economic activity. 

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Announcement - January 18, 2017

The Bank of Canada announced this morning that it is holding the target for its overnight rate at 0.5 per cent. In the press release accompanying the decision, the Bank noted that uncertainty in the global outlook, particularly with regard to policies in the United States, is undiminished. The Canadian economy is forecast to grow 2.1 per cent in both 2017 and 2018, implying the Canadian economy will return to full capacity in mid-2018.  On inflation, the Bank noted that it continued to be lower than expected but should return to it 2 per cent target in coming months.

Political uncertainty in the United States will likely govern the direction of both policy rates and long-term bond yields over the next year. The interest rate on 5-year government of Canada bonds has risen to its highest point in a year, which is adding upward pressure to mortgage rates offered by Canadian lenders.  While the Canadian economy is forecast to post steady growth in 2017, overall slack in the Canadian economy remains persistent.  Without a significant uptick in economic growth, inflation will likely continue to trend at or below the Bank's 2 per cent target.  That, along with lingering uncertainty, will keep the Bank sidelined through 2017 with a chance of lowering its target rate should current downside risks to the economy become realized.

Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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