Oil Still Paying Dividends

Within a Whisker of $1000

When StatsCan produces its monthly assessment of wage rates – they track the average weekly pay in every province – watchers in this province have been waiting for the number to crack the $1000 mark. We’ve been hovering in the $990-something range for months – putting us in second or third spot in the country behind Alberta and Newfoundland.

Interesting that the oil producers are still turning out the big pay checks. Clearly the impact of the industry goes well beyond the industry itself as it sets a tone for wages employers in other sectors have to offer.

Well, we now have October’s figure…its’ just under $997. Not quite there but still third in the country and represents an increase of $13 over September’s weekly figure. These numbers include overtime but that is likely fairly low these days.

When the numbers are broken down by industry – resource extraction – which includes mining as well as oil and gas is still the highest paying field with an average of $1900 a week nationally. Utilities are second at $1800.


Points, Points, Points

The holiday season drives home a few observations about the way things are changing in the retail world and how business is responding to changing consumer habits.

The last few weeks are harvest time in retail and the pressure for consumers to get everything done is always high. But there are few things about this year’s season that help us understand how consumers are approaching the business of buying these days.

One notable is points. The emergence of loyalty programs – everything from generic ones that are adopted by a host of retailers to store specific ones – is clearly evident. And they are working. This year, for example, two-thirds of us told a BMO Bank of Montreal survey they would be using credit cards to accumulate points. And millennials, it turns out, are especially good at converting points into currency with two-thirds using points to stretch their holiday spending dollar this year.

And most interesting in this year’s report… we’re embracing warnings about buying on credit as only one-in-eight Canadians expects to have a debt hangover in January.


Watch the Retail Numbers

It’s still too early to tell if this was a good Christmas season for the local retail community but as we track figures on consumer spending habits, there are a couple new factors that will begin to distort the numbers.

So, we’ll have to be a bit wary of retail sales as a measure of consumer confidence.

First, is the Amazon-effect.

The on-line retailer had something of a breakthrough year in 2015 as Cyber Monday, following on the heels of Black Friday, is reshaping the landscape. These numbers will not show up in Saskatchewan’s retail tallies but that does not mean Saskatchewan residents are not spending….it’s just that they are changing they way they do it and the numbers will be skewed as a result.

Second, are gift cards. They’re growing in popularity as gifts but are redeemed when the sales are in full force after the holiday season so they are not counted in retail volumes when they are purchased but rather, when they are spent. Again, skewing the numbers.

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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