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Flagging retailers are canary in coal mine for Canada's economy – BNNBloomberg.ca

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Eileen Wilson says she’ll be spending less this year on holiday shopping compared with last year because money is tight and the cost of living has gone up.

The retired Canadian civil servant says she clips coupons to save money on basics and has been checking online every day to get the best deal on video games for her two grandchildren for Christmas.

“I’ve been doing pretty good so far,” Wilson, 76, said during an interview at an Ottawa shopping mall.

Wilson isn’t alone in paring back spending. Retail sales in Canada are on pace for one of their worst years on record for growth, raising red flags about the health of the nation’s consumer. Sluggish spending at malls may only be a sign of things to come for an economy awash in household debt and unable to find other drivers to replace consumption.

Retail receipts for the first nine months of 2019 are up just 1.6 per cent from a year earlier, the slowest pace outside of the last recession since at least 1992. In volume terms, the deceleration is even more pronounced, with real retail sales up just 0.7  per cent this year. Statistics Canada releases October retail sales data on Friday.

The slump has been across the board, from cars to food to clothing, highlighting the broad nature of the slowdown, “which could signal that things may get a bit worse before they get better,” said Jennifer Bartashus, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, evident in slowing sales growth at companies such as Loblaw Cos., Canada’s largest grocery retailer and the parent of Joe Fresh clothing stores, and Empire Co., which owns supermarket chain Sobeys Inc.

The malaise in retail is only the most visible symptom of Canada’s strained households, which are showing signs of fatigue as high debt burdens take their toll. Excluding housing, annual growth in total household consumption — everything from the purchase of televisions to spending on health care — has averaged 1.1 per cent in real terms over the past four quarters, the slowest pace outside recession since at least 1962.

More than half of respondents in a recent Equifax Canada survey said they plan to spend less on gifts this holiday season, and 46 per cent said they would limit spending because they’re already carrying too much debt. Canadians owe $1.76 for every $1 of disposable income. They spend a record 15 per cent of disposable income to pay principal and interest on debt.

“We see a customer that is resilient but that is very value-oriented,” Michael LeBlanc, senior adviser at the Retail Council of Canada, said in a phone interview. “That’s nothing new particularly for Canada, but it seems to be more accentuated.”

The squeeze on discretionary income is making Canadians more careful, LeBlanc said, which has actually been good for discount merchants such as Dollarama Inc., whose stock has outperformed other retailers this year.

A tapped-out consumer is adding to broader structural changes, driven by technology, that pose additional challenges. Less money on the table means Canadians are changing the way they shop, driving online sales higher and leading to new trends such as the growth of the rental clothing market.

It could be worse, given the high debt levels. While slowing, consumption in Canada at the very least is still growing and is expected to remain a driver of the nation’s expansion even in its weakened state. Analysts are anticipated real household consumption to grow at about 1.7 per cent annually over the next two years, helped by a recent jump in employment that is fueling sharper-than-expected income gains. That should support spending and help households repair balance sheets. The household savings rate rose to 3.2 per cent in the third quarter, for example, the highest since 2015.

Still, pressure on sales is only increasing. For many retailers, “flat is the new up,” LeBlanc said.

–With assistance from Erik Hertzberg.

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New national poll shows Canadians are most concerned about the economy, want a strong natural gas and oil sector to drive recovery – Canada NewsWire

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CALGARY, AB, Sept. 22, 2020 /CNW/ – The state of our country’s economy is the biggest issue of the day for Canadians, according to a new poll from IPSOS. The poll has 44 per cent of Canadians choosing the economy as the biggest priority for government, even putting it ahead of healthcare (chosen as the top issue by 36 per cent of those surveyed). All other issues fall far down the list of concerns.

When it comes to strategic direction, nearly two-thirds of Canadians (64 per cent) say that natural gas and oil need to be a part of Canada’s recovery and more than half (55 per cent) believe supporting jobs in Canadian natural gas and oil is more important than ever because we need it to kick start our economy.

The new data from IPSOS, which surveyed people across the country, demonstrates Canadians are widely supportive of growth and development for Canada’s natural gas and oil sector.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) is encouraged to see strong support from Canadians and urges the federal government to show the same level of support for the natural gas and oil industry.

CAPP has just published its Vision for Canada’s Recovery report, which highlights the positive potential impact of the industry in creating jobs for Canadians and boosting the country’s economic recovery.

According to Statistics Canada, exports of crude oil, bitumen, natural gas and natural gas liquids generated more than $102 billion in 2019. Add in refined petroleum and the total rises to more than $112 billion — about 19 per cent of the revenue from all of Canada’s exports combined.

The industry supports half a million jobs across the country and a supply chain that reaches from coast to coast and contributes to economic growth and prosperity for thousands of businesses.

As Canadians look toward recovery, the natural gas and oil industry can play a vital role — not only to boost the national economy, but to promote further innovation and develop new technologies which can help the country reach environment and climate goals here and abroad.

Today, Canada is a clear leader in environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. For example, Canada’s offshore oil production is among the least carbon-intensive in the world, with 30 per cent lower emissions per barrel than the global average.

The country’s leadership in innovation and environmental performance can be a competitive advantage when marketing Canada’s energy sector on the world stage, and a key component of drawing investment back to a responsibly-operated and stable energy industry.

CAPP quotes Tim McMillan, president and CEO:

  • “Government policy must be considered in the context of a strong economic recovery plan. It’s time to signal to the international community that Canada is a good place to do business and market our strengths to attract investment back to our industries.”
  • “Economic recovery is top of mind for Canadians, and we are encouraged to see the support across the country for a strong natural gas and oil industry. A growing industry will create much-needed jobs for Canadians and revenues for governments. Bringing investment back to the industry will also support continued development of new technologies which improve our environmental performance, reduce emissions and further our climate goals.”

Supporting information:

  • The supply chain of oil sands producers alone is associated with close to 10,000 businesses across the country.
  • The offshore oil and natural gas industry makes up one-quarter of Newfoundland and Labrador’s GDP and 41 percent of exports. Approximately 600 supply and service companies in Atlantic Canada rely on work associated with offshore development.
  • Ontario’s participation in the oil sands supply chain was valued at $1.89 billion in the two-year period from 2016-2017.
  • The natural gas and oil industry is Canada’s largest investor in clean technology and environmental protection, spending about $3.5 billion annually.
  • From 2017 to 2019, a period with struggling commodity prices, Canada’s natural gas and oil sector still contributed over $8 billion annually to government revenues across the country.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) represents companies, large and small, that explore for, develop and produce natural gas and oil throughout Canada. CAPP’s member companies produce about 80 per cent of Canada’s natural gas and oil. CAPP’s associate members provide a wide range of services that support the upstream oil and natural gas industry. Together CAPP’s members and associate members are an important part of a national industry with revenues from oil and natural gas production of about $109 billion a year. CAPP’s mission, on behalf of the Canadian upstream oil and natural gas industry, is to advocate for and enable economic competitiveness and safe, environmentally and socially responsible performance.

SOURCE Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

For further information: Jay Averill, Manager of Media Relations, CAPP, (P) 403-267-1151, (C) 587-225-4534, [email protected]

Related Links

http://www.capp.ca

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AP-NORC poll: Dim view of economy stable as election nears – 570 News

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WASHINGTON — Most Americans view the nation’s economic situation as bleak, but a rising percentage also see signs of stability six weeks before Election Day — if not reasons for optimism.

According to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 60% of Americans describe the national economy as poor and 40% deem it good. That’s a rebound in confidence from low points in April and May, when just 29% called the economy good as the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the country.

About 4 in 10 Americans — 43% — say they expect the economy to improve in the next year, about the same as in July. But just 28% said they expect things to get even worse, a slight improvement from the 35% who said so in July and a significant improvement from May, when 40% expected things to continue getting worse. This month, 27% expect no change in economic conditions in the next year.

That relative hopefulness may say more about the nation’s politics than the underlying health of the world’s largest economy.

President Donald Trump is seeking reelection against Democrat Joe Biden with stock market gains as a rallying cry. The unemployment rate has improved, but remains high at 8.4%, and lawmakers have failed to agree on additional aid for Americans suffering financially due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the continued toll from the virus — including the loss of schooling and revenue shortfalls for state and local governments — threatens the prospect for a wider recovery.

The poll found that 67% of Republicans call the economy good, compared with 16% of Democrats. Republicans are significantly more likely to expect the economy to get better than worse in the next year, 64% to 14%. Among Democrats, 39% expect things to get worse and 28% expect them to get better, while 32% expect no change.

“It’s kind of just in a neutral gear,” said Gary Cameron, 65, a retiree and Trump supporter from Midwest City, Oklahoma. “I do expect after the pandemic is over, it will probably go back to where it was, maybe better.”

But Cameron believes that the world’s largest economy would be hurt by a Biden presidency, saying he does not believe the country suffers from systemic racism and that addressing the demands of civil rights protesters would come at the expense of institutions that drive growth.

“The people the Democratic Party have gotten into bed with do not love America,” Cameron said. “I think it would do damage to the country.”

The poll finds that half of Americans approve of how Trump is handling the economy, which remains his strongest issue. By comparison, 43% approve of how he’s handling his job overall. Eighty-nine per cent of Republicans and 15% of Democrats approve of Trump’s handling of the economy.

About two-thirds of Americans — 65% — say their own personal finances are good. That number has remained largely steady since before the pandemic began. Seventy-eight per cent of Republicans and 58% of Democrats say their personal finances are good. Americans are also more likely to expect their personal finances to get better than worse, 38% to 13%, with 48% expecting no change.

Bob Blanchard, 73, of Augusta, Georgia, lives in a community hurt by the coronavirus and the loss of business locally from a spectator-free Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. A consulting engineer, Blanchard said local businesses are suffering and he can no longer make money by renting out his house to the crowds who came for the fabled golf tournament.

“My wife and I don’t go out to eat,” Blanchard said. “We avoid retail shopping like the plague. No pun intended.”

Blanchard, who intends to vote for Biden, says the blame for this rests with Trump.

“He just was completely irresponsible and incompetent,” he said. “He knew it was bad, but he didn’t do anything.”

The poll shows 22% of Americans who say they or someone in their household lost a job as a result of the pandemic say the job has returned. Thirty-five per cent expect the job to come back, but 44% expect it won’t.

Overall, 27% of Americans say their household lost a job, 36% that someone was scheduled for fewer hours, 26% took unpaid time off and 27% had wages or salaries reduced. All told, 53% experienced at least one form of household income loss during the pandemic. Income losses have been especially concentrated among Black and Hispanic Americans and those without college degrees.

Ryan Wilson, 37, said that half of the workers at the seafood warehouse where he’s a supervisor were furloughed when the pandemic started — and not all have returned to their jobs. A resident of Altamonte Springs, Florida, he said his concern is that the economic troubles are worsening drug addiction and domestic violence.

“People are really suffering,” he said. “They’re facing levels of depression, anxiety and distress — and not just financially. They turn to something to escape the daily pressures of life and that’s ravaging across American right now.”

___

The AP-NORC poll of 1,108 adults was conducted Sept. 11-14 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points.

___

Online:

AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org/

Josh Boak And Emily Swanson, The Associated Press

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German economy to shrink by 5.2% this year, grow by 5.1% next year – Ifo – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Ifo institute on Tuesday said Europe’s largest economy would likely shrink by 5.2% this year, raising its previous estimate for a 6.7% drop, in the latest sign the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic could be smaller than initially feared.

“The decline in the second quarter and the recovery are currently developing more favourably than we had expected,” Ifo chief economist Timo Wollmershaeuser said.

For 2021, Ifo cut its economic forecast for Germany to 5.1% growth from its previous estimate of 6.4%. It expects the economy to expand by 1.7% in 2022.

The number of people out of work is seen rising to 2.7 million this year from 2.3 million in 2019, before edging down to 2.6 million in 2021 and then to 2.5 million in 2022.

That would translate into a jump in the unemployment rate to 5.9% this year from 5.0% last year. The rate would then drop to 5.7% percent in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022, Ifo said.

The Ifo institute cautioned that there was an unusually high degree of uncertainty attached to the forecasts. It pointed to the rising number of coronavirus infections, the risk of a disorderly Brexit and unresolved trade disputes.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Adair)

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