Review of Economic Statistics — January 25, 2019

Catalogue number: 36-26-0001

Issue number: 2019002

Release date: January 25, 2019

Review of Economic Statistics — January 25, 2019 - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Review of Economic Statistics — January 25, 2019")

(Background music plays while title card with the text "Review of Economic Statistics" appears on screen.)

Richard Evans: Welcome to the Review of Economics Statistics.I'm Richard Evans.

Guy Gellatly: I'm Guy Gellatly.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Richard Evans, Director General, Industry Statistics. Guy Gellatly, Principal Researcher.")

Richard Evans: Guy, we have a great menu of numbers you've assembled for us today. We're going to look at manufacturing and retailing for November and consumer prices for December. Now coming into this, I kind of have expectations and I'll tell you why. Petroleum prices were down sharply in November, and we've seen already that had quite an influence on the merchandise trade report, helping to pull things down there. The producer prices report of course spelled out what the lower prices were and were actually measured at for petroleum prices. So I'm kind of expecting manufacturing to be a bit weaker in November, am I right?

Guy Gellatly: Richard, manufacturing sales down 1.4% in November. Virtually all of that coming on lower sales of petroleum and coal products. So yes, lower petroleum prices were clearly a factor there. They weren't the only factor. We also had lower sales volumes at refineries as well, which reflects some maintenance and some turnaround activities at some refineries, as well as some lower production at others.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Manufacturing sales down 1.4% in November on lower sales of petroleum and coal products.")

Richard Evans: If we exclude those refineries, or what we're calling manufacturers of petroleum and coal products, what does the picture look like then?

Guy Gellatly: So you take petroleum and coal out of the mix, manufacturing would have been up slightly, at 0.2%.

Richard Evans: Okay, different picture. So if we work our way up the production chain and look at retailers now, they were also affected through gasoline store, gasoline station sales last month. What did the picture look like in November?

Guy Gellatly: Richard, retail sales in November down 0.9%. Most of that is coming on lower sales at gasoline stations and at auto dealers. So in terms of gasoline, it was down about 5%, and a lot of that is those lower prices that you noted, although we did have—

(Text on screen below presenters: "Retails sales down in 0.9% in November on lower sales at auto dealers and gasoline stations.")

Richard Evans: But not entirely.

Guy Gellatly: Not entirely. There were some lower volumes there as well. The auto numbers, they were down 1.8%, but that follows three consecutive increases in those numbers.

Richard Evans: We're talking prices a lot here, but here I go again. If we remove prices from retailing, what does the picture look like?

Guy Gellatly: Yeah, sort of a weaker month in terms of the volume movement as well. Volumes in retail down 0.4% in November.

Richard Evans: Okay, so that comes after that recent trend moderating retail sales. Interesting to take note. Now let's look at—after having talked so much about prices—let's talk about consumer prices. They dipped below the 2% bar in November for the first time in 2018, in November.

(Text on screen below presenters: "Consumer price inflation accelerated to 2.0% in December.")

Guy Gellatly: We had it in the start of the year, too. I'll just note that quickly.

Richard Evans: Okay, so the second time. Good, thank you. So December, what happened in December?

Guy Gellatly: They edged back up. So consumer price inflation up to 2% in December, following that 1.7 in the month prior. It's interesting there, Richard, when you look at the data separately for goods and for services, a lot of the higher prices really coming from services. When you look at services as a whole, prices there are 3.5% higher in December of this year than they were in December 2017.

Richard Evans: And the components there, within that services category?

Guy Gellatly: It's interesting, we had some higher prices in terms of travel—in terms of travel tourists, sorry—and airline transport.

Richard Evans: And airfares.

Guy Gellatly: That's right. And we also had some coming from telephone services, as well, higher prices there. So a bit of a mix.

Richard Evans: So for a 2% headline number and 3.5 for services, it means that the goods didn't have that much lift, did they?

Guy Gellatly: No, when you actually look at goods as a whole, they were up slightly in the 12 months to December. So 0.2% is not much of a lift there, as you say. Clearly, lower prices for gasoline showed up certainly in November and they were there in the December numbers as well. They declined year over year and that follows that long string of double-digit increases in those gas numbers that we had really through most of the year.

Richard Evans: Very good, that's a great round up. Just to finish off, that risk of not publishing merchandise trade has now moved into a reality. Merchandise trade numbers for the December reference month will not be published on February 5th as initially planned. For more information on this, please consult our January 17th Daily. You'll find that on our website.

(Text on screen below presenters: "")

Guy Gellatly: And also note there's a new study that's come out recently that looks at women in the top 1% of the income distribution and some of their sociodemographic characteristics. That's also available on our website.

(Screenshot of the "Who Are the Working Women in Canada's Top 1%?" publication appears on screen.)

Richard Evans: Excellent. Thanks for joining us.

(Text on screen below presenters: "")

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