April 23, 2018 3:30 am

On Friday, Statistics Canada released retail sales figures for February which were up a strong 3.5% for Canada (year over year) driven by a 4.2% increase in Ontario which is likely related more to price increases related to the higher minimum wage as opposed to volume of sales increases. Alberta’s growth was somewhat weak at 0.7%.

New car dealers were strong in February. I had mentioned on April 16 that new vehicle sales were down 8% in February in Alberta but this may have been a bit of a statistical anomaly that has pushed down overall retail sales in Alberta as well. I would expect a rebound when the March figures come out.

Statistics Canad a also released inflation figures for March. Inflation was running at 2.3% year over year or 1.8% excluding gasoline. This is approaching levels that would support an interest rate increase.