Wholesale and Retail Trade

WHOLESALE TRADE Given the current economic uncertainties around resources, it is encouraging that wholesale trade is hitting record levels in the province. During the first 10 months of 2015, Saskatchewan recorded a 1.9 per cent year over year increase to $2.35 billion. Agricultural supplies were up 16.4 per cent year over year, while machinery and equipment was down eight per cent and building material were down 14 per cent. Nationally wholesale trade fell 0.6 per cent to $54.7 billion.

RETAIL TRADE Household disposable income, consumer spending and retail sales are expected to bounce back from negative or no-growth in 2015, to positive growth in 2016 and 2017, according to the Conference Board of Canada. The Retail Council of Canada forecasts “impossible cost pressures” as a result of a weak loonie that could squeeze profit margins. A declining Canadian dollar is making imported goods more expensive. Retailers buy much of their inventory overseas or south of the border in US currency. Income gains, soft inflation, and low interest rates will sustain household consumption.

In 2015 Saskatchewan was a laggard on the consumer spending front. According to Statistics Canada, retail sales grew in every province except Saskatchewan and Alberta between November 2014 and November 2015. Retail sales in Saskatchewan in November
2015 were 1.0 per cent lower than in the same month in 2014, the only province other than Alberta to experience a year over year drop. This compares to 3.2 per cent increase nationally for the
same period.

Sales at Saskatchewan’s clothing stores fell by 2 per cent; grocery stores fell by 5.6 per cent; service stations fell by 20 per cent (reflecting lower prices at the pumps) while furniture and home furnishings was up by 5.7 per cent, and home building centre/garden supplies were up by 13.8 per cent reflecting a mild winter making
it easier to work outside. Liquor stores sales were also up by
4.3 per cent.

The number of vehicle sales is a good economic indicator: Slower sales in 2015 are part of a trend towards lower consumer spending. New motor vehicle sales in the first ten months of 2015 total 47,304 down 4.9 per cent from the same period in 2014 (LP December 2015). Sask Trends Monitor predicts new vehicle sales will be around 56,000 units in 2015. In Saskatchewan vehicle sales were close to 58,000 in 2014 down slightly from the record of 59,137 new vehicles sold in 2013. This compares to 56,517 sold in 2012 and 51,078 in 2011. Five years ago, only 45,000 vehicles were sold and in 1994 only 36,000 vehicles were sold. Even though Saskatchewan’s vehicle sales are down in 2015, it follows a multiple years of strong increases.

Moose Jaw’s retail sales have continued to trend upward albeit at a slightly slower pace in recent years. A recent report by Manifold Data Mining estimates the 2014 Retail Sales for Moose Jaw were higher than the national average, and positive compared to the province. Moose Jaw is 35.11 percent above the Canadian average while Saskatchewan is forecast to be 6.44 per cent below. Moose Jaw’s retail sales per capita are $47,926 compared to Saskatchewan at $37,138.

Revitalization of the Downtown during the 1990’s as a popular and well-known tourist destination has helped increase local retail trade.

Moose Jaw is a major rural service centre serving a trading area of approximately 60,000 people - a growing trade area population that is becoming less and less rural.