Spending on big-ticket items is a great indicator of
general consumer confidence and one of the most
expensive items consumers will purchase is a vehicle. Like
several other statistical measures in 2013, spending at the
car and truck lots is pointing to continued strength in
In March of this year, Albertans spent $1.36 billion at new
and used vehicle dealerships. That’s an increase of 7.7 per
cent over the same month of last year. In spite of this
increase, the sales figure for March 2013 is not a record.
That title belongs to May of 2007 when Albertans shelled
out over $1.51 billion on new and used vehicles.
The data compiled by Statistics Canada is not adjusted to
account for the regular fluctuations of seasonality—and
vehicle sales tend to pick up significantly in the summer
months (see the fine purple line in the graph below).
Smoothing the figures with a 12-month trend, the
pattern over the last several years becomes much
easier to read (see the heavy purple line).
There is a clear drop in the dollar value of sales during
the economic recession of 2008 and 2009. But after
reaching the bottom near the end of 2009, sales of
vehicles began to pick up—and with the stronger
economy and population growth, they’ve continued
to climb steadily ever since.
Judging by the 12-month trend line, sales of vehicles
in Alberta are once again reaching new record level
highs this summer.