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Canadian Consumers More Optimistic Heading Into The Holiday Season

Ottawa, December 19, 2016—Following a six-point increase last month, The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence rose 1.1 points in December to 103.8.

“Despite the underwhelming pace of full-time job creation seen of late, Canadians appear to be holding out hope for greater opportunities in the new year and this bodes well for spending entering the holiday season,” said Matthew Stewart, Associate Director, The Conference Board of Canada.

Highlights

  • The index of consumer Confidence rose 1.1 points in December to 103.8.
  • Canadians were more optimistic about future employment prospects and their household finances.
  • Consumer confidence in Alberta rose 5.8 points to reach a 19-month high.

Relative to November, Canadians—especially those in Alberta—were more optimistic about future employment prospects. Some survey respondents also reported an improvement in their finances over the last six months, and many expected better financial conditions in the next six months. However, the share of consumers who felt that now was a good time to make major purchase declined for the fourth time in five months in December, suggesting that Canadians remain apprehensive about buying homes and cars amidst the precarious job creation and weak economic growth seen in 2016.

Alberta’s index rose 5.8 points to 66.1, its highest level since May 2015. Recent positive developments in the energy sector may have provided a boost for consumer confidence in the province. Albertans appeared to feel better about overall economic conditions, as survey respondents were more optimistic about future employment opportunities and the prospect of making a major purchase in December. Still, the province’s index sits nearly 35 points below its 2014 average.

Energy industry developments appeared to be on the minds of consumers in Saskatchewan as well, which drove a 2.9-point increase in the Saskatchewan–Manitoba index.

Consumer sentiment also improved in Canada’s two largest provinces. A solid increase in full-time positions in Ontario last month was met with greater optimism about future employment prospects and many Ontarians also indicated that their household finances had improved over the last six months. The index in Quebec also increased, which was largely due to more Quebecers indicating now was a good time to buy a big-ticket item. In fact, the balance of opinion on this question has been trending upward since the beginning of the year.

In contrast, apprehension about making a major purchase weighed on the minds of consumers in British Columbia, where the index fell 7.3 points in December to 123.2. B.C. shed a significant number of full-time jobs last month, which probably led to more survey respondents reporting worsening household financial conditions in December.

Meanwhile, consumer sentiment fell precipitously in the Atlantic provinces, with the balance of opinion deteriorating on all four survey questions.

The survey was conducted between November 28 and December 8, 2016.


For more information contact

Corporate Communications
613-526-3280
corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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