Consumers storm back in July: RBC

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Last month marked the first uptick in monthly consumer spending since February as the economy’s reopening continued, RBC Economics reports.

Based on anonymous transaction data from RBC clients, the firm reported that consumer spending rose by 3% in July compared with the same month last year, marking the first month of positive growth since the Covid-19 outbreak.

“A nascent recovery in Canadian consumer spending solidified through the end of July, as more sectors of the economy reopened and government benefits continued to support incomes,” RBC said, calling the resumption of consumer activity “a significant milestone.”

The pattern of consumer spending in July continued to reflect the effects of the pandemic, with segments such as travel and live entertainment remaining depressed, while consumption shifted to other areas.

For instance, spending on self-care and dining rose in July, RBC reported.

“Spending on haircuts and massages wasn’t far from last year’s levels, reflecting the increased availability of personal services,” the bank said.

Sales for restaurants, bars and other food-services providers improved too. Spending in these segments was still down by 9% from last year, but was substantially better than June, when spending was down 17%.