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Mixed signals for the Canadian economy – RCI | English – Radio Canada International – English Section

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Reports show retail sales are rebounding, but still well below pre-COVID levels, but many consumers also think the economy will worsen in the next 6 months ( Hannah McKay-Reuters)

Even as another significant retail chain in Canada announces closure of all its stores, one statistic says retail sales in the country are rebounding, but another report says consumer confidence in the economy is stagnant.

Mendocino is a women’s fashion chain with some 28 stores around the greater Toronto area. In filing the insolvency notice of intent, the company said, “As a result of challenges resulting from the pandemic, the Company recently made the very difficult decision to discontinue all or substantially all of their stores and focus on an e-commerce model”. Survival through online sales alone is no guarantee a report last year by the International Council of Shopping Centres noted that physical stores help drive online sales. There is no indication of the number of jobs that will be permanently lost with the closure announcement.

Meanwhile Statistics Canada, the government statistics agency, says retail sales rebounded in May by almost 19% as a few businesses began to reopen from an April shutdown due to COVID-19. Car and auto parts dealers led the way, but sales were up in every province and in almost every sector, including clothing and general merchandise.  The only sector showing a decline was food and beverage, down substantially at over 23 per cent.

 Preliminary estimates from StatsCan indicate sales in June will be up over 24 per cent, roughly equal to the record decline of 24.1 per cent in April

However, in spite of what seems like good news for the economy, StatsCan notes that retal sales are still some 20 per cent below February levels.

Even as consumers appear to be starting to shop once again, a survey of consumer confidence in the economy was lackluster. In a Bloomberg/Nanos survey, more than half of Canadians (59%) believe the worst is yet to come for the economy. Even though many businesses and industries are gearing back up, some 16 per cent said they were unsure or somewhat unsure about the security of their jobs. Only 14 per cent said they were better off financially than they were a year ago. In its June report, the Conference Board of Canada, a non-profit think tank,  still predicted an 8.2 per cent reduction in the economy for the year, the worst on record.

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Thai leader says unity necessary to revive virus-hit economy – News 1130

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s prime minister, facing growing demands from students for change, warned Thursday that the nation must pull together to overcome the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a speech marking the appointment of a new team of financial specialists to his Cabinet, Prayuth Chan-ocha said the economic crisis will not go away quickly.

Thailand has been praised for its handling of the health effects of the coronavirus, with no local cases reported for 80 days. But it has suffered an especially strong shock to its economy because of its heavy dependence on tourism and exports.

Prayuth’s speech comes at a time of growing political pressure, as a student-led protest movement issues increasingly strident calls for his government to step down, the military-installed constitution to be revised, and limits to free speech to be lifted to promote democracy.

Some of the protesters’ criticisms challenge aspects of the country’s constitutional monarchy, setting them at odds with the conservative political establishment led by royalists and the military.

Prayuth, as army commander, led a coup in 2014 that ousted an elected government, served as prime minister in the military regime that followed, and returned as prime minister after a general election last year that was widely seen as free but not fair.

He declared Thursday that “our future is in the hands of the young,” but pushed aside the demands of the mainly young protesters at frequent rallies around the country.

“Right now, we must focus on the economic survival of tens of millions,” he said. “Let’s get the economy going first, first get that done by working together, and we can look to fixing the other issues, collaboratively, later.”

He also referred to the political conflict that has afflicted the country for much of the past decade and a half, including street clashes and two military coups.

“The politics of division that rejects a united approach to solving problems belongs to another era in history,” he said.

Prayuth said he appointed experts rather than politicians to the Cabinet to manage financial policy because “the economy is as big a threat to our lives as is the health threat.”

The Asian Development Bank recently forecast that the economy will contract by 6.5% in 2020, compared to its December 2019 projection of 3.0% growth.

“We are a small boat in a big ocean, and our economy can only start returning to normality when the rest of the world starts returning to normality,” Prayuth said.

Grant Peck, The Associated Press

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As economy recovers, some Toronto restaurants commit to end tipping – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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TORONTO – As the Canadian economy continues to adapt to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, some restaurants in Toronto are saying goodbye to a service industry staple: tipping.

So far three restaurants — Richmond Station, Ten and Burdock Brewery — have publicly signed onto doing away with the practice.

The aim is to make the industry more equitable and provide service workers with access to the social safety nets afforded to other professions.

Each of them has instead implemented what is known as a “hospitality included” fee — essentially an enforced gratuity, usually set at 18 per cent of the bill.

Unlike the practice of “tip-pooling,” which typically pays back-of-house staff such as cooks and dishwashers significantly less than front-of-house staff, a hospitality included fee is designed to be more evenly distributed.

Ryan Donovan, co-owner of Richmond Station, says his team decided it was the right choice when they saw how badly service workers were hit by the pandemic.

But James Rilette, vice-president of the industry group Restaurants Canada, doesn’t think ending tipping will go over well with customers.

He says conversations with restaurant owners and customers over the years have led him to believe that consumers tend to prefer tipping over price increases on menu items.

Rilette says the biggest problem is sticker shock — since people are going to react to seeing the price of their burger go up 20 per cent.

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Thai leader says unity necessary to revive virus-hit economy – 570 News

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BANGKOK — Thailand’s prime minister, facing growing demands from students for change, warned Thursday that the nation must pull together to overcome the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a speech marking the appointment of a new team of financial specialists to his Cabinet, Prayuth Chan-ocha said the economic crisis will not go away quickly.

Thailand has been praised for its handling of the health effects of the coronavirus, with no local cases reported for 80 days. But it has suffered an especially strong shock to its economy because of its heavy dependence on tourism and exports.

Prayuth’s speech comes at a time of growing political pressure, as a student-led protest movement issues increasingly strident calls for his government to step down, the military-installed constitution to be revised, and limits to free speech to be lifted to promote democracy.

Some of the protesters’ criticisms challenge aspects of the country’s constitutional monarchy, setting them at odds with the conservative political establishment led by royalists and the military.

Prayuth, as army commander, led a coup in 2014 that ousted an elected government, served as prime minister in the military regime that followed, and returned as prime minister after a general election last year that was widely seen as free but not fair.

He declared Thursday that “our future is in the hands of the young,” but pushed aside the demands of the mainly young protesters at frequent rallies around the country.

“Right now, we must focus on the economic survival of tens of millions,” he said. “Let’s get the economy going first, first get that done by working together, and we can look to fixing the other issues, collaboratively, later.”

He also referred to the political conflict that has afflicted the country for much of the past decade and a half, including street clashes and two military coups.

“The politics of division that rejects a united approach to solving problems belongs to another era in history,” he said.

Prayuth said he appointed experts rather than politicians to the Cabinet to manage financial policy because “the economy is as big a threat to our lives as is the health threat.”

The Asian Development Bank recently forecast that the economy will contract by 6.5% in 2020, compared to its December 2019 projection of 3.0% growth.

“We are a small boat in a big ocean, and our economy can only start returning to normality when the rest of the world starts returning to normality,” Prayuth said.

Grant Peck, The Associated Press

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