Steve Flynn  RE/MAX Crest Realty- Burnaby 

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Canadian retail sales fell in December by 3.4% m/m on a seasonally-adjusted basis. This is the first decline since April 2020. Sales were down in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 84% of retail sales. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 3.3%.  
  
Sales were down in all provinces for the first time since April 2020. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales fell by 2.2% ($7.9 billion) and by 2.1% ($3.5 billion) in Vancouver. Contributing the most to the decline were sales at auto dealers. Compared to the same time last year, BC retail sales were up by 8.9%.   

In December, Canadian e-commerce sales totaled $4.7 billion, reaching a record high and accounted for 7.8% of total sales. E-commerce sales were up by 69% from a year ago. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.  
    
December's results were lower than estimated by Statistics Canada, but not a surprise. The reintroduction of provincial health restrictions led about 15% of surveyed businesses to close in December. Also, consumers likely pulled forward their purchases to November in anticipation of the holiday rush, as well as promotional events such as Black Friday. Growth in retail sales is expected to be weak until the vaccine becomes more widely available.



Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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Canadian inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose by 1.0% in January year-over-year. The increase was largely due to higher gasoline prices (6.1%). Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose by 1.3%, which is up from 1.0% in December. Prices rose in seven of eight components year-over-year in January. Growth in the Bank of Canada's three measures of trend inflation inched up slightly, averaging 1.5%. 

Regionally, the CPI was positive in eight provinces, led by Newfoundland and Labrador (1.5%). In BC, CPI rose by 1.1% in January year-over-year, up from December's increase of 0.8%. Strong price growth continued for health and personal care and shelter. Home furnishings also pulled ahead in January on the heels of robust home sales. In contrast, gas prices continue to be a drag on BC's inflation. 

Inflation is expected to remain weak until the vaccine rollout becomes more widespread and health regulations across the country are relaxed. In the current environment, the Bank of Canada will continue to keep interest rates low.



Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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Canadian housing starts increased by 23% m/m to 282,428 units in January at a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), following a 12% decrease in the previous month. Housing starts increased in 6 of 10 provinces with the strongest gains in Quebec and Ontario. January's strong performance increased the six-month moving average to a historic high of 244,963 units SAAR.  

In BC, housing starts decreased by 17% m/m to 35,931 units SAAR in January, following a 12% decrease in the previous month. Building activity was down by 28% for multi-unit starts, while single-detached starts were up by 38% in January. Compared to the same time last year, housing starts were up by 24% in BC. 

We can expect housing activity to continue to be supported by strong demand and historically low borrowing rates but are not expected to remain at elevated levels. The value of BC residential building permits was down by 5% in December. The good news is that after a long downward trend in the value of building permits for single-detached homes in BC, the trend started to reverse in April 2020. 



Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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Vancouver, BC – February 11, 2021. 


The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that a total of 7,169 residential unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in January 2021, an increase of 63.3 per cent over January 2020 and over a thousand sales higher than the previous record for the month of January. The average MLS® residential price in BC was $845,169, a 16.1 per cent increase from $728,269 recorded in January 2020. Total sales dollar volume was $6.1 billion, an 89.6 per cent increase from last year.

“It was once again a record-setting month for the provincial housing market,” said BCREA Chief Economist Brendon Ogmundson. “While sales were strong across all regions of the province, the Fraser Valley, Interior and Vancouver Island regions shattered previous sales records and pushed January sales to new heights.”

Total active residential listings were down 21.5 per cent to 20,254 units in January, the lowest level of provincial active listings on record, going back to 2000. With strong sales and so few listings, market conditions are exceptionally tight with less than three months of total supply. 

“The supply of listings continues to be held back by the pandemic,” added Ogmundson. “With so few listings, markets are starved for supply and prices are under extraordinary pressure.”  

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Canadian employment lost 213k jobs in January (-1.2%, m/m), representing the second consecutive decline since April 2020. This left the employment level 4.5% below its February 2020 pre-pandemic level. The decline was once again led by part-time employment, while full-time positions continued to see improvements in January. Job losses were concentrated in Ontario (-154k) and Quebec (-98k), as extended restrictions continued to negatively impact retail, food services and accommodations, and culture and recreation. The national unemployment rate increased by 0.6 percentage points to 9.4%, which is still a fall from the record high of 13.7% in May 2020. Compared to the same month last year, Canadian employment was down by 4.4% (-834k). 

In BC, employment grew by 2.8k (0.1%, m/m) in January, following a gain of 1.4k in the previous month. The unemployment rate ticked up by 0.8 percentage points to 8.0%, the second increase since the record high of 13.4% was set in May 2020. Meanwhile, in Vancouver, employment increased by 9.0k (0.6%,m/m), following a decline of 1.1k in the previous month. Compared to one year ago, employment in BC was down by 1.7% (-45K) jobs. 

Although the pace of national job losses accelerated in January due to extended provincial health restrictions, the number of COVID-19 infections is slowing and some provinces are considering gradually lifting these restrictions. That being said, the emergence of more highly infectious strands of COVID-19, and a slower than expected rollout of the vaccine will likely delay the recovery.



Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.

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The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.