Following a 1.7 per cent increase in November, Canadian retail sales disappointed in December, falling 2.2 per cent. Weakness in sales was widespread with 10 of 11 retail sub-sectors recording a decline in sales. Given disappointing consumer spending in the final month of 2015, we estimate that growth the Canadian economy was approximately zero in the fourth quarter. In BC, retail sales fell 1.9 cent on a monthly basis but were up 7.1 per cent compared to December 2014. For all of 2015, retail sales in the province rose 6.9 per cent.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the rate of inflation in Canada, rose 2 per cent in the 12 months to January, up 0.4 points from the previous month. Gasoline prices rose on a year-over-year basis for the first time since October 2014 while food prices climbed 4 per cent. The Bank of Canada’s core measure of inflation, which excludes volatile components like food and gasoline increased 0.1 point to 2 per cent, right on the Bank’s target for inflation. In BC, provincial consumer price inflation was 2.3 per cent in the 12-months to January.