Mastercard SpendingPulse: Canadian consumer spending increased +7% in August ahead of back-to- school

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According to Mastercard SpendingPulseTM, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, Canadian spending, excluding automotive, increased +7% YOY in August (+18.8% YO3Y), indicating spending has well surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Mastercard SpendingPulse accounts for nominal spending and is not adjusted for inflation. In-store sales increased (+7.8% YOY) with a significant surge in Apparel (+37.4% YOY) ahead of the back-to-school season. Fuel and Convenience also saw an increase (+18.5% YOY), as consumers took their final summer road trips.

“As Canadians rounded out their summer with last-minute vacation plans and families preparing for back-to-school season, it’s not surprising to see both an increase in retail sales and in-store spending,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “However, where we continue to see strong growth compared to pre-pandemic times is in the e-commerce sector, indicating new spending habits have set in despite the return of accessibility to in-store shopping.”

Spending growth in August 2022 compared to the levels seen in August 2021, when there were still some COVID-19 restrictions, reflects a return to pre-pandemic consumer behavior. Of note:

  • Back-to-School season is in full force: With the removal of most COVID-19 restrictions and students returning to the classroom, the Apparel sector saw sales increase +37.4% YOY (+18.8% YO3Y), indicating not only seasonal growth but also a return to pre-pandemic levels of growth as consumers return to in-store shopping.
  • Home Improvement alongside Home Furniture and Furnishings sales climb as summer closes out: Home Furniture and Furnishings continued to see growth with sales up +12.8% YOY (+30.8% YO3Y) with Home Improvement sales up +11.7% YOY (+24.9% YO3Y), a consistent trend since the start of the pandemic.
  • Last-minute travel plans have consumers continuing to spend at the pump: With summer coming to an end and gas prices softening, last-minute road trip plans remained top of mind for Canadians with Fuel and Convenience spending up +18.5% YOY (+32.8% YO3Y).