Slumping oil prices are cutting a wide swath across the Albertan economy, from rising vacancies in office towers to climbing EI benefit claims.
But in one of the more poignant examples of how the energy slowdown is hitting home, sales have slowed substantially for something many Albertans hold close: trucks.
Experts at Scotiabank said Tuesday they expect the number of light trucks (including crossovers) sold in the province to decline to just 128,000 or so this year, compared to the nearly 145,000 sold in 2014.
The downtrend is in keeping with an overall decline in auto sales in the province, which is seeing a steep drop in car-buying activity as households rein in big ticket purchases (see chart below).
The slump contrasts sharply with the record numbers that car buyers elsewhere are putting up, with B.C., Ontario and Quebec likely to touch all-time highs in annualized sales this year.
Canadian auto purchases climbed to an all-time high of 2.01 million units last month (annualized), according to Scotiabank, up from an average of 1.88 million through September.
Edmonton-based AutoCanada, the country’s largest network of dealers, said last week sales from its Alberta dealerships plunged 17.2 per cent in the latest three-month stretch.
The group of 52 dealerships counts about half in its home market, but that’s now a ratio it’s quickly looking to tilt more in favour of out-of-province locations.
“The company is now more formally saying that it will focus acquisition efforts in Eastern Canada,” RBC Capital Markets analysts said in a research note this week.
“Management believes Ontario is an attractive market,” Scotiabank analysts said.
Here’s how auto sales are holding up across provinces, courtesy of Scotia auto economist Carlos Gomes: