Alberta retailers may need therapy after this week

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Big week for earnings and economic data in retail sector: will it be time to blame Alberta?

It’s a big week for retail in Alberta, wrote CBC News Aug 16, 2015. We’ll get second quarter earnings from a number of big-box players including Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes.

But Friday is the big economic data point for consumers and retailers. Statistics Canada will be releasing both the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for July and the retail sales numbers for June.

Jim Danahy photoJim Danahy, director of Schulich ExecEd’s Centre of Excellence for Retail Leadership and president of Customerlab, says when it comes to July’s CPI, we’ll start to see the early signs of inflation, mostly thanks to the low flying loonie. “When you’re using 76 cent dollars to pay for things in China, and they want US dollars in return, the goods are going to cost a little bit more money,” he said.

He thinks the same will be true for food costs but it will be less apparent as we’re heading into harvest season.

As for retail sales numbers, Danahy says June is typically a slow month, and he’s expecting to see the usual mixed results. At worst he says expansions might be put on hold, but he isn’t expecting to see any outright store closures. “One thing I’m going to bet you is that we start to hear for the very first time from national publicly traded retailers is the Alberta factor, so they can make excuses if results miss the mark,” he said.

Danahy says it’s too soon to expect total gloom and doom in Alberta. “Let’s face it, there are still jobs that are going unfilled in Alberta, it’s still a robust economy, it’s just not storming like it was,” he said.

Albertans have to prepare themselves for what he’s calling a new normal. “This isn’t the first time Alberta has gone through the boom and bust of oil prices — oil will go up again.”