Retail sales down, but decline in SK is lowest amongst the provinces

News from Statistics Canada that retail sales in Canada were down by 26.4 percent between March and April should not come as a surprise as the country shut down in the middle of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  While every province took a hit, Saskatchewan had the best performance with a decline of 14.8 percent to $1.26 billion dollars.

“Saskatchewan businesses have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, however due to the strength and resilience of our people and businesses, the effects have not been as significant as in other jurisdictions,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said in a release. “Recent economic indicators, including the best wholesale trade numbers in Canada and the second lowest unemployment rate in the nation, show that our province has been weathering the COVID-19 storm better than others and that we are well positioned for a strong economic recovery in the near term.”

On a year-over-year basis, retail trade was down 23.7 per cent, the third lowest among provinces, but well below the national average decline rate of 32.5 per cent.

CFIB data released this week showed that 63 per cent of Saskatchewan businesses remained fully open, the highest percentage of respondents in any province. In addition, CFIB data also showed Saskatchewan’s business barometer index grew by 7.1 points in the second half of May 2020 compared to the first half – the highest growth among provinces compared to a 0.7-point decline in the national index.

Businesses in Saskatchewan were also able to retain more employees than other provinces, with 66.2 per cent of businesses in Saskatchewan able to keep their employees during the pandemic, the highest among the provinces. In addition, only 7.6 per cent of businesses in the province laid-off 100 per cent of their work force, the least among the provinces.

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