Analysis | Against all odds, we consume!

Spread the love

Analysis | Against winds and tides, we consume!

Retail sales fell in September, Statistics Canada reported this week, but they still remain higher than last winter.

I'm looking at Statistics Canada's numbers on retail sales in the country year-to-date. And, month by month, I see that sales exceed $60 billion. You read that right: $60 billion, every month, on average, despite inflation, despite fears of recession and, let me add, despite the ecological crisis.

Retail sales fell in September, Statistics Canada reported this week, down 0.5%. But these sales total for the 30 days of September no less than 61.14 billion dollars in seasonally adjusted data. Since June, there has been a slight slide in retail sales in Canada. But they are still higher than last winter, when inflation was already around 5%, just before the outbreak of war in Ukraine, which pushed inflation up to 8%.

The strength of retail sales is, of course, due to rising prices. But it is also explained by the ability, for part of the population, to maintain a usual level of consumption, without even giving up certain choices. If inflation hits low-income households, it does not slow down the momentum of those who have been able to save, who have kept their jobs and who even plan to travel during the holiday season.

Recently, at Economy Zone, the boss of an association of travel agencies told us that demand was absolutely not weakening in view of the holiday period, that people were even willing to pay more to go south than in the past.

Why? Because the pandemic has hit hard and deprived Canadians of being able to celebrate Christmas as they wanted, in joy and fun, with family and friends, for two years. Clearly, many people don't want to see their holidays forfeited for a third year in a row, whether by COVID or inflation.

Then, it must be said: fundamentally, nothing, absolutely nothing is being done to change, modify, reassess our consumption choices despite the climate emergency of our time. While the last climate conference, COP27, ended with a result without great ambitions, once again there is nothing in the public space and especially in the political discourse that calls us to do other consumption choices, more ecological, less destructive to the environment.

World leaders at the inauguration of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt

Those who call for courageous choices, necessary to change the order of things, are not really heard. Governments rely primarily on technology to tackle the climate challenge. No new reduction targets, no demanding decisions, and greenhouse gas emissions that continue to rise, when they should already be in freefall to hope to reach the 2030 target and limit the already catastrophic warming , from the climate to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

So again this year, the sales forecast for Black Friday – whose advertisements line the newspapers, echo on TV and on the radio – are exceptional, as are the screenings for the entire holiday season.

Thus, according to the annual survey of the Quebec Council of Retail Commerce (CQCD), released on November 10, barely 35% of Quebecers plan to spend less this year for the holiday season, which is an increase of only 5 points. percentage over the previous year.

Above all, the amount planned per person in spending, in households that have planned to make purchases for the holiday season, goes from $969 in 2021 to $1,090 this year. Quebecers plan to spend more on gifts and clothing, a sign that gatherings will be more numerous this year.

Furthermore, despite a drop in the consumer confidence index during purchase intentions on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday are higher this year than in 2019.

After two years of pandemic and therefore despite inflation, it is certainly not climate anxieties that will slow down consumption. This is great for retailers, who rely on this time of year to improve their bottom line. But it would still be necessary, at the very least, to ask real questions about what exactly we are buying. If we're so keen on consuming, what are we buying?

If Canadians still want to spend $60 billion at retailers in December, what should they buy to reduce their environmental footprint? And if Quebecers want to spend more this year, what exactly do they want to buy?

It's a tradition: Economy Zone presents Thursday at 5:55 p.m. ET a special edition dedicated to consumption: Holidays : how to consume without breaking the bank.

< p class="e-p">Do we still want to buy polluting objects made on the other side of the planet, which have traveled thousands of kilometers to come to us and which risk ending up in the trash in the next year?

Or do we want to buy the product of a craftsman from our village or our region, which is consumed well, which can be recycled or redone as needed, which sustains the local economy, which passes through a short circuit, and whose the ecological impact is zero?

Do we want to have that awareness when spending our $1090 this year? Or do we absolutely want to have the latest gadget from Apple, the thing that only Amazon can deliver to us – in this endless ballet of trucks delivering a thousand and one things every minute – the game, the device, the clothing, the rare and sparkling thing, but polluting and generating carbon?

There are a host of Quebec companies that are ideal for finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones.

In the survey of the Conseil québécois du commerce de retail, we learn that 50% of people want to buy products made in Quebec this year, compared to 57% in 2021, a significant drop.

In addition, the Responsible Consumption Barometer, published Wednesday by the Responsible Consumption Observatory of ESG-UQAM, confirms a decline in interest in buying local. Obtaining products made in Quebec is important to support the economy for 77% of people surveyed, a level down from 2020 and 2021. And consuming products made here is considered too expensive for 63% of people, an increase of 9 percentage points compared to previous years.

According to this same Barometer, financial stress is increasing rapidly as 73% of people say they have stopped buying certain products in recent months due to inflation. Despite everything, and this is paradoxical, retail sales in Quebec have remained stable, between 13.5 and 14 billion dollars per month, in seasonally adjusted data, since the beginning of the year, according to Statistics Canada.

The surge in inflation this year is affecting a large proportion of low-income households, who are only looking to live better, to stop depriving themselves constantly, and who would also like to be able to accommodate loved ones at Christmas.

But, for many – and I can hear their voices resonating very well – inflation is an impediment to going around in circles, and it is not true that after two years of pandemic, we are going to deprive ourselves this year! Good for us, then, one might think, while it is good for the economy, it would seem. But should we do it without worrying about our ecological impact?

It is quite possible that it will be the recession of 2023, the one that most economists predict, which will come to curb the consumption.

Perhaps the year 2023 will cause some to rethink their priorities and choices as economists anticipate a recession, which could push the unemployment rate up a bit. It is quite possible that the reality check will be difficult in the coming months for some households.

The strong intervention of the central bank is slowing the economy to several levels. And it could have an even greater effect in the coming months on consumption, when job losses could add up.

CQCD – Orama Marketing survey

Internet survey, October 19 to 26, 2022

1012 respondents

OCR Barometer – ESG-UQAM – MBA Research

Internet survey, September 20 to 29, 2022

1000 respondents

Previous Article
Next Article