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Consumer confidence stalls in Canada during September

Ottawa, September 30, 2020 – After rising throughout the summer months, consumer confidence stalled in Canada during September.

The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence inched up 5.2 points in September to 83.6 (2014 = 100) thanks to increased optimism across all four survey questions. However, despite the uptick, the pace of the recovery of consumer confidence has now stalled.

The confidence index has been fluctuating around the 80 mark for four consecutive months. Compared with its peak of 120.6, reached in February, the index is now 37 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level. While Canadians’ pessimism over both their current finances and their future job prospects has declined, both measures are still well above their February levels. The share of positive responses to those questions barely changed in September.

Additionally, a majority of Canadians (50.7 per cent) do not feel that now is a good time to make a major purchase. This finding matches a peak level observed during the 2008–09 financial crisis.

In terms of provincial findings across Canada during September, Quebec and Alberta were the only provinces to post gains in consumer confidence in September. The headline index saw double-digit growth in these two provinces during the month. Conversely, the Index of Consumer Confidence in the Atlantic region, British Columbia, and the Manitoba–Saskatchewan region fell for the second consecutive month.

Other provincial highlights during September, include:

  • Ontario’s index ticked 2.4 points lower in September, its first decline since May. Ontarians were most worried about their future financial situation with the share of positive views on the question declining by 2.5 percentage points, the largest drop among the provinces. As a result, the majority of Ontarians (54 per cent) believe that now is a bad time for a major purchase.


  • Quebec’s index roared back 20.2 points in September to a reading of 120.1, offsetting the province’s large decline in August. Quebec is now back to leading the country with the highest confidence index. Consumers’ positive sentiments about their finances and employment conditions improved significantly. Quebec had the highest increase in optimism about future employment (up 5.5 percentage points) among the provinces.


  • Alberta’s index increased by 15.0 percentage points during September, making it the province with the fastest recovery. The consumer confidence index is now only 2.9 points below its February level. Survey respondents in the region showed a significant increase in optimism about their finances and future employment conditions. Alberta has the highest share of positive views on future finances (20.5 per cent), and Albertans’ views on making major purchases during the month has recovered to its pre-pandemic levels.


  • British Columbia’s consumer confidence index lost 1.8 points in September, following its 10.8-point drop in August. Compared with the index’s February level, the province now has the second largest gap in Canada. British Columbians worried a lot about their current finances and future employment, as both questions recorded the largest decline in positive views among provinces.


  • The index for Saskatchewan–Manitoba dropped by 1.5 points in September. Residents in the region were more worried about their financial situation, both current and future. As a result, consumer confidence about major purchases eroded significantly. Roughly 57 per cent of survey respondents believe that now is a bad time for a major purchase, the highest share of pessimistic sentiments across the country.


  • The Atlantic region’s index declined by 3.4 points this month, leading to the largest gap (63.5 points) among provinces between its September index and its pre-pandemic level. Residents in the region are concerned most about their future financial situation, as the share of pessimistic views on the question rose by 9.0 percentage points. Only 9.5 per cent of survey respondents in the region believe there will be more jobs in the future.


About The Conference Board of Canada

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Media Contact:
Michelle Rozon
The Conference Board of Canada 
613-526-3090 ext. 224

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