Canada’s retail sales falls 2 per cent in December

THE BROCK PRESS/Brittany Brooks

THE BROCK PRESS/Brittany Brooks

As reported by various news sources, Canadian retailers experienced their biggest single-month drop in retail sales in nearly five years, leading to various officials claiming that Canada’s retail sector is failing.

According to a Statistics Canada report issued Feb. 20 on the end of 2014’s questionable retail revenue, Canadian Business reported earnings of $42.1 billion, a two per cent drop from November and the biggest single-month decline in over half a decade.

“It appears that Canadian consumers kept a firm grip on their wallets during the month,” said Economist Nick Exarhos of CIBC World Markets in a press release on the issue.

In relation to the decline of the retail sector, the Canadian dollar fell a third of a cent, bringing the dollar below 80 cents U.S. In addition, economists also have pointed out that weak sales in December have been followed up with strong reported earnings in January, potentially the result of gift cards which often get shelved until after the New Year. In fact, even with the drop in retail, Canada’s overall GDP grew 0.3 per cent due to manufacturing and wholesale trade, which proved to bolster growth going into 2015.

Despite the growing coverage of Canada’s economic retail woes, many officials on the matter have expressed serious scepticism surrounding the issue, citing that a single month of weak earning does not constitute a trend.

According to Professor Coulter, Associate Professor of Labour Studies at Brock University,“Some stores and sub-sectors are struggling from a business perspective, and, of course, workers are negatively affected by closures, but Canada’s retail sector is not ‘failing.’The entire history of retail is marked by the creation and expansion of some stores and chains alongside the closure of others. We have seen more bankruptcies than usual over the last year, and Target’s implosion is particularly significant because of the very high number of people affected, and because it follows so closely after the 25,000 job losses at Zellers caused by Target’s arrival”.

“Recently, there has been a major merger (Loblaw-Shoppers), new stores are being brought to Canada, and others are expanding within our borders. Many retailers are making a lot of money. The retail sector is still the largest employment sphere in Canada and it is the workers therein who warrant more attention. 10 per cent of Canadian workers are in retail, they have a median age of 34, and most make poverty wages even as their employers profit.”

“The issue is not only whether stores exist, but how the people who work in them are treated. And as more people have only part-time hours and low-wages, they have less money to spend in retail stores – so that does and will negatively affect retailers.”

While journalism itself aims to be unbiased, presenting the truth to a reader in a way both accessible and understandable to everyone, stories can from time to time be presented in grandiose fashion for a variety of reasons. This phenomena commonly referred to as sensationalism, is defined by Oxford Dictionary as, “The presentation of stories in a way that is intended to provoke public interest or excitement, at the expense of accuracy”.

While this increased attention to the failing retail sector by media enterprises owned by corporations makes it clear that bolstering sales by any means from a corporate perspective can seem essential, it’s a relatively modern phenomena which drives capitalist societies. The ultimate goal is to keep people perpetually spending, regardless of the details.

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