Albertans spent far less in the first four months of 2021 than they did in two years past.
According to data from ATB Financial, Alberta consumers spent about 17 per cent less than they did over the same period in 2019 and about 13 per cent less than they did from January to April 2020 just before and just after the pandemic was declared.
ATB explained that consumer spending has been kept in check so far in 2021 by the combined effects of rising COVID-19 cases and the related public health measures; caution on the part of consumers who might otherwise be spending more money; and the accumulated financial stress facing many families and businesses in the province.
Retail sales, on the other hand, have risen above both their pre-pandemic and pandemic levels (at least up to the last retail sales report which was for March). The discrepancy is in part explained by the fact that spending via debit and credit includes a broader range of options than the wares offered by retail stores in Alberta. For example, spending at restaurants or on hockey tickets are not counted as retail spending by Statistics Canada.