With a growing population and a strong economy, Alberta is seeing some impressive retail sales in 2013. But at least one type of retail operation in our province is seeing sales on a long-term downward trend.
Convenience store operators around the province rang up sales of $57.4 million in April of this year (unadjusted for seasonality). That sounds like a lot, but it’s actually down about 11.8 per cent from April of last year and down 24.3 per cent from three years ago (see graph).
What’s behind this downward trend? Some of the drop may be due to longer shopping hours at
the larger grocery stores, which compete against convenience stores for household spending on food. Many grocery stores used to be open until only 9 pm—but are now extending hours until 11 pm or later. These later hours are proving convenient for busy Albertans trying to grab some groceries on their way home from work, the mall or a movie.
Another reason could be the growing affluence of Albertans and the rising demand for better quality or healthier foods. A two-litre bottle of pop might be given way to a chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio on the patio at home. Or that party bag of chips may be losing ground to a plate of artisan cheese and
Higher incomes mean more expensive tastes, and much of these can only be satisfied in the grocery or specialty food stores—even if it’s less convenient.*
*Courtesy of Todd Hirsch, Chief Economist, ATB Financial