MONTREAL, Feb. 16, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - With retail sales of $101.4 billion in Quebec, representing a 2.5% increase over 2010, the Quebec retail sector has managed to hold its own. However, it did not achieve the predicted 3% increase for the year 2011 and experienced its smallest growth since 2005, with the exception of 2009 when it registered negative growth of -1.1%.
These are the findings of the study on the results for 2011 and the economic outlook for 2012, made public today by the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail (CQCD). The study was prepared by the Marketing Research division of the Altus Group. It indicates that employment is stable in the retail sector, with 441 000 persons employed, maintaining the sector's position as Quebec's largest employer. The study also reveals a drop in Quebecers' savings rate, to 2.4%, the lowest level since 2001. An identical rate was observed in 2005.
Retail sales for the year 2011 increased slightly, both in Quebec and in Canada. In Quebec, they rose by 2.5% in 2011, to $101.4 billion, far behind the last record year in 2010 when they registered a 6.6% increase. In the country as a whole, sales grew by 4.0% in 2011, to $453.9 billion. It is important to note that despite this moderate growth, Canada continues to see a substantial drop in the number of commercial bankruptcies in the retail sector, with a decline of more than 20%. According to Me Gaston Lafleur, President and CEO of the CQCD, "Our retailers' financial health does not seem to be affected, despite the moderate growth; that is a sign of good management."
In Quebec in 2011, only three retail sub-sectors exceeded the 2.5% average growth rate: gasoline stations (23.3%), home furnishings stores (8.8%) and automobile and auto parts dealers (3.4%). On the other hand, several sub-sectors experienced negative growth, the most important being home electronics and appliance stores (-4.8%), renovation, hardware, building and gardening centres (-3.3%) and pharmacies and personal care stores (-2.7%). The food sector saw negative growth of -2.1%.
With regard to personal finances, Canadian households' consumer credit was relatively stable in 2011, at 42.6%. On the other hand, mortgage credit continued to rise, reaching 94.9%. With a personal savings rate of 3.7% in 2010 and 2.4% in the third quarter of 2011, Quebec households have moved farther away from the savings rates observed in 2009. Quebec consumers' confidence has declined from year to year since autumn 2009; it reached 89.2% in autumn 2011.
"In a context where employment remains stable and consumer confidence in Canada is wavering, it is important to remain cautious, but confident, with regard to retail sales forecasts," notes Me Lafleur, President and CEO of CQCD. We can expect a stable or slightly higher interest rate in 2012. A slight rise in inflation and in consumers' disposable income is also anticipated, which will influence consumers' behaviour.
Consequently, the CQCD predicts that retail sales in Quebec will see an increase of 2% to 2.2% in 2012.
The Conseil québécois du commerce de détail (CQCD) is proud to promote, represent and enhance the image of the retail sector and the retailers who belong to it in order to ensure the development and prosperity of the sector. The CQCD is an association of retail and distribution businesses representing more than 70% of retail-related activities in Quebec and is an indispensable voice for this major sector the economy.
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