Saskatoon's economy is on the mend - but 'it’s a long path ahead to recovery'
SASKATOON -- The Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority (SREDA) says Saskatoon recently reached 58.5 per cent recovery when compared to 2019.
“In terms of that economic recovery over the past 12 months we are just over half way towards a full economy, but obviously there is still a long way to go,” CEO Alex Fallon said.
The findings came from 10 different sectors of Saskatoon’s economy such as GDP, retail sales, and employment. It’s called the Saskatoon Economic Recovery Tracker.
The individual economic recovery from each sector gets comprised into the overall number of 58.5 per cent, which is up from 48.2 per cent in December of 2020.
“I think the jump has been some consumer spending over the Christmas break, so retail is doing better. A lot of investment into home improvement, construction housing, that fuels a lot of consumer spending,” said Fallon.
“I think confidence too. We’ve seen consumers be a little bit more confident in terms of health, the rollout of the vaccination. That increases confidence in the economy and that leads to spending.”
Some individual sectors’ economic recoveries include: GDP at 83.4 per cent recovered, employment at 64.5 per cent recovered, building construction investment at 56.1 per cent recovered, and airport passenger traffic at 13.8 per cent recovered, according to SREDA.
Fallon said that the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will play a big role in Saskatoon’s economic recovery in 2021.
Information from SREDA’s findings came from Statistics Canada, the Conference Board of Canada, the International Monetary fund and industry associations.
Margot Orr with the Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce said the information in the numbers come as good news, but there are a few outliers when it comes to falling behind and catching up.
“We’ve also seen a lot of sectors, mainly tourism, hospitality that are really struggling. I think that’s something we need to keep in mind,” Orr told CTV News.
Orr cited a statistic from Tourism Saskatoon indicating that hotels may not fully rebound and recover until 2025.
“It’s a long path ahead to recovery. Like I said this is such an important tool, but we’ve got to keep in mind that there are sectors that are really struggling out there.”
She also believes that the vaccine rollout will have a big impact on consumer confidence and the furthered recovery of the economy.
“I think that consumer confidence really will trend things upwards, and I think we will see more spending and see people go out more. Hopefully with restrictions easing up because of the vaccine that we will see changes in the future.”
Peter Garden, owner of Turning the Tide Bookstore, closed his storefront down in November of last year and has been only selling his wares online.
Despite the change in his business practices and the pandemic, Garden said that things have been going well for his store.
“I’m always a bit reluctant to talk about this because I know it’s been really rough for a lot of businesses out there, but for 2020, 2021, the COVID period has been our best year on record,” said Garden.
He believes that the push to buy local has had a big impact in Saskatoon on smaller businesses, and much like Orr he believes that the community should keep an eye out for those still struggling and do what they can to help out.
“I’m really happy with the position were in and I’m really hoping that folks will step up and support other small, locally owned businesses in the weeks and months to come as they have been supporting us,” Garden said.