Car lot owners have been amongst the biggest beneficiaries of the rebounding Albertan economy. The most recent data on new vehicle sales in Alberta might show a slight monthly dip, but the trend over the past year puts sales near pre-recession levels.
Statistics Canada estimated that slightly below 20,000 new vehicles (cars and light trucks) were sold in Alberta in November, a dip of 3.6% over October, but 12.9% higher than November 2010. For some perspective, when the recession hit seasonally adjusted sales dropped 40% to below 15,000 from over 21,000.
Nationally, vehicle sales stood at 138,000 (relatively unchanged relative to this time last year), which means Albertans accounted for about 14.5% of all sales. Considering Alberta only constitutes slightly over 10% of the population, it’s clearly another example of how the economic centre of gravity is shifting westward in Canada.
Alberta doesn’t have any vehicle manufacturing, so rising sales here actually helps more with job creation in Ontario, the US and abroad. The main reason new vehicle sales is relevant to the broader Albertan economy is that it shows a renewed confidence in job security and willingness to spend.
Some of the increase in new vehicles sold is likely due to people putting off replacing their vehicles during the depths of the recession. Households in Alberta are likely looking more closely at how they spend now than during the boom, but the signs are clearly positive.*
*Courtesy of Will van’t Veld, Senior Economist, ATB Financial