Canadian retail sales increased 0.3 per cent on monthly in basis in January and were 3.6 per cent higher compared to last January. Sales were higher in 7 of 11 sub-sectors representing 63 per cent of total retail trade. With today’s data, and all other data available thus far for the first quarter, we are tracking Canadian economic growth at just 0.9 per cent for the first quarter of 2018. In BC, after growing nearly 10 per cent in 2017,retail sales growth has slowed, falling 1 per cent on a monthly basis in January but rising 6.2 per cent compared to January 2017.
Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), jumped higher in February, registering 2.2 per cent year-over-year, up from 1.7 per cent in January. The Bank of Canada’s three measures of trend inflation were all higher as well and now are either very close to or exceeding the Bank’s 2 per cent inflation target. In BC, provincial consumer price inflation was 2.8 per cent in the 12 months to February.
Today’s data is somewhat mixed in its impact on monetary policy in Canada. On the one hand, the Canadian economy appears to be slowing considerably, while on the other, inflation continues to close in on the Bank’s target of 2 per cent. We believe the Bank will continue to hold interest rates steady until summer or fall to get a better grasp on the direction of the economy before acting.