Consumer Spending Habits

Cheers. Bar traffic steady

Consumer confidence levels continue to hold their own in Saskatchewan.

Tracking the spending habits of the average consumer is one proxy for testing the overall state of the economy. If discretionary spending goes down, economists look for signs of weakness in the broader economy. Similarly if it holds its own or goes up, we get another signal.

There are a bundle of indicators or metrics that can help us understand the state of mind of consumers. One is directly related to discretionary spending – sales volumes in restaurants and bars. This is one of the sectors that see revenues dry up first at a time when consumers begin worrying about their economic futures or their ability to get or hold a job.

The latest numbers we have for the hospitality business are from August and, for the most part, it is a stay-the-course report. Sales of the month were up about a point and down an equal amount for the year. Basically, they are sitting at just north of $150 million a month and not moving, signalling consumer confidence is not really changing.


Extra Loose Change

There was a bit of a bump in wages in Saskatchewan in August. And it came in the face of declines in many parts of the country.

The monthly calculation of pay packages for wage earners is one of those indicators that we track to keep an eye on the state of purchasing power in the province. Stronger wages generally translates into stronger retail spending and so on.

With the decline in commodity prices, we were seeing some softening on this front earlier in the year but August came back with a roar. Wages rose nearly one percent in the month, which is a fairly strong bump, but it came at time when wages in the provinces on both sides of us were going down. Besides us, only the Atlantic region saw some gains.

That leaves Saskatchewan in third place among the provinces when it comes to average pay packets and adds further support to the consumer spending categories such as retail sales and food services which have been faring quite well through the commodity downturn.


Guadalcanal’s Saskatchewan Connection

A group of recent graduates from the province of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands are the newest members of this province’s hospitality sector.

A deal has been struck between the South Pacific nation and this province that will see graduates of Guadalcanal’s hospitality program get some hands-on experience at the side of hoteliers in Saskatchewan. This is a new bilateral partnership that is largely province-to-province and focuses on one sector. Solomon Islands is one of the few countries in the world where citizens do no need a Temporary Resident Visa for Canada.

The Hotel and Hospitality Association says the partnership will not only give the new grads on-the-job experience that will help when they get home, but it also assists local hoteliers with skill shortages.

The deal came together when officials from the South Pacific nation learned about Saskatchewan’s tourism industry training programs. The two sides began exploring possibilities which led to the first wave of graduates to hit Saskatchewan, just in time to learn about something their hospitality industry doesn’t have to contend with…..winter.



Paul Martin

Paul Martin You’ve heard him on the radio, seen him on TV and read him in newspapers and magazines. Paul is a popular keynote speaker on topics ranging from the economy to tapping community potential. His unique blend of communication and business knowledge has made him a highly sought-after consultant. As the Chair of Martin Charlton Communications, Paul is MCC’s ‘go to’ guy for all things business in Saskatchewan. He is the chair of four Saskatchewan branches of TEC (The Executive Committee) – a global organization dedicated to improving the performance and enhancing the lives of CEOs – which has over 50 CEOs and senior executives among its Saskatchewan members. The long and short: Paul knows the province’s corporate community and business economy like few others. He is a potent conduit for anyone looking to do business in Saskatchewan, Canada’s fastest growing economy. His strategic advice is unrivalled.

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