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Canadian retail sales seen rising despite climbing consumer debt

A Statistics Canada report due Nov. 22 that is expected to show retail sales across the country climbed by between about 0.3 per cent and 0.6 per cent in September.


As Emanuella Enenajor at CIBC World Markets puts it, Canadians have been looking on the "bright side" instead of fretting about swelling debts.

The CIBC economist was referring to a Statistics Canada report due Friday that is expected to show retail sales across the country climbed by between about 0.3 per cent and 0.6 per cent in September.

"With a booming housing market and rising consumer confidence, Canadian households have been looking on the bright side, rather than dwelling less on their rising debt levels," Ms. Enenajor said in a report. "That has seen retail sales head higher, helped by broad-based gains, including durables purchases."

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Vehicle sales likely rose in September, and sales of other goods also probably jumped.

"A new smartphone release that month boosted receipts, while the ongoing gains in existing home sales yet again lifted the tide of housing-related retailing including furniture/building equipment," Ms. Enenajor said, although she did not refer to Apple's iPhone 5S and 5C by name.

Senior economist Robert Kavcic of BMO Nesbitt Burns noted, too, that a pickup in September sales would add to the rebound of July and August, setting up a better third quarter over all after the slide late in the previous three-month period.

"At this point, a modest gain in retail volumes should leave the economy on track for modest growth in the 0.1-0.2 per cent range in the month, downshifting from the strong gains recorded in July and August," he said, referring to the September report on gross domestic product that will follow later.

Sales may be on the rise, but inflation isn't.

Also on Friday, Statistics Canada will release a monthly report expected to show that the annual inflation rate dipped in October to about 0.8 per cent or 0.9 per cent, from 1.1 per cent in September.

So-called core inflation, which excludes volatile items and helps to guide the Bank of Canada, is also believed to have dipped, to 1.2 per cent in October from 1.3 per cent a month earlier.

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"This would mark the slowest rate of core inflation since May 2013," said economists at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

All of which means that there continues to be no rush for the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates.

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