As health restrictions eased, Canadian retail sales rose 4.2% m/m to $56.2 billion on a seasonally-adjusted basis in June. Due to declines in April and May, sales remained 3.5% below the March peak. Sales rose in 8 of 11 retail sectors measured by Statistics Canada, with the largest gains occurring in clothing sales (+49.1%), caused by loosening restrictions on non-essential retail. In June, 5.2% of Canadian retailers reported being closed for at least one business day, down from 5.6% in May. Statistics Canada's preliminary retail sales estimate for July, based on just 38% of respondents reporting, is for a 1.7% decline.

In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales were largely flat, rising just 0.2% m/m but nonetheless hitting a provincial record for a second consecutive month in June. BC retail sales were up by 12.6% compared to the same month last year. In metro Vancouver, sales were up 1.6% while in the rest of the province sales declined 1%. 

In June, Canadian e-commerce sales declined 10.6% as consumers switched to brick-and-mortar retail. E-commerce accounted for 5.8% of total retail sales in June, down from 7% in May.
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Vancouver, BC – August 17, 2021 The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2021 Third Quarter Housing Forecast Update today.

Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales in the province are forecast to rise 26 per cent to 118,350 units this year, after recording 94,007 sales in 2020. In 2022, MLS®residential sales are forecast to pull back 15 per cent to 100,150 units.  

“The pace of home sales in the province has slowed in recent months but an unprecedented start to the year still has BC on track for a record-breaking year,” said Brendon Ogmundson, BCREA Chief Economist.

With strong demand being supported by low mortgage rates and a rapidly rebounding post-COVID economy, the more significant concern is whether there will be an adequate supply of listings in the market. The supply situation is especially severe in markets outside the Lower Mainland, where new listings activity has been lackluster. As a result, the average price in 2021 is on track to post a second consecutive year of double-digit gains. We are forecasting the provincial average price to rise 16.6 per cent to $911,300 this year, followed by a 2.9 per cent gain next year to $937,300.

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Canadian prices, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose 3.7% on a year-over-year basis in July, hitting the highest rate since prior to the pandemic. Overall, the upward bias of "base-year effects" are no longer substantially influencing the year-over-year CPI changes, although they still have an effect on certain subcomponents such as gasoline. On a seasonally adjusted month-over-month basis, the CPI was up 0.5% in July. The Bank of Canada's preferred measures of core inflation (which use techniques to strip out volatile elements) rose an average of 2.5% year-over-year in July. In BC, consumer prices were up 0.7% month-over-month, and up 3.1% on a year-over-year basis in July. The homeowner replacement cost index, which measures the cost of replacing home structures, rose 13.8% year over year in July, which was the fastest rate since the 1980s. Related costs, such as commissions on the sale of real estate, also rose strongly in July. Prices of passenger vehicles rose 5.5% year-over-year in July due to the continuing challenges related to semiconductor chip supply chains. 

While inflation is currently running higher than the Bank of Canada's 2 per cent target, many economists expect this elevated rate of price increases to be transitory as economies emerge from the pandemic and supply chains normalize. Base-year effects from falling prices during the early months of the pandemic had exaggerated year-over-year changes in CPI, but these effects have now largely ended. The rate of inflation as measured by CPI is very important for the Bank of Canada's monetary policy stance over the next year. If higher inflation is not transitory but instead the result of an over-stimulated economy, the central bank could act to raise interest rates sooner than expected. However, if the uptick in inflation fades in the coming months, we expect the Bank will stay its current course.
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Most Canadian provinces substantially lifted public health restrictions in the first half of July. As a result, Statistics Canada is reporting positive employment figures for the month across most indicators. Canadian employment rose by 94,000 in June (0.5%, m/m) to 18.88 million, following growth of 231,000 in June. This growth brings employment to the highest level since the onset of the pandemic. Canadian employment is now -1.3% (-246k) below its February 2020 pre-pandemic level. In July, growth was driven by gains in the private sector, the food & accommodation sector, among youth aged 15-24, and among prime working-age women. Other positive indicators included gains in hours worked (+1.3%) and a decline in the number of people working less than half their usual hours (-10.1%). The unemployment rate also declined by 0.3 to 7.5%. 

In BC, both total employment and the unemployment rate were largely unchanged from June. The province maintains one of the strongest labour markets in the country, with only Quebec reporting a lower unemployment rate for July. For the second consecutive month, BC remains the sole province with employment above its pre-pandemic level.
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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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