Consumer spending in Canada rose by three per cent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2018. That marked the lowest increase for the year and the lowest quarterly growth in four years, according to Moneris Solutions Corp., Canada’s largest processor of debit and credit payments.

Quebec and British Columbia saw above-average increases of 5.4 per cent and 4.1 per cent in spending when compared to the last three months of 2017.

Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, on the other hand, saw drops of 4.5 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively.

Ontario came in close to the national average with a 3.3 per cent increase in spending over the same period in 2017.

Alberta saw a slight increase of 0.8 per cent.

Angela Brown

Angela Brown

“Every quarter of 2018 saw an increase in spend, but the increases overall were more tempered than in years past­,” said Angela Brown, president and CEO of Moneris, in a statement. “This is a trend we expect to continue throughout 2019, with spending to be cautious and growth to be moderate.”

The report said October saw the largest spend increase in the quarter with spend up 5.2 per cent, as compared to November (up 3.8 per cent) and December (up 1.6 per cent).

“The traditional shopping days of Black Friday, Boxing Day, and the final Friday before Christmas all saw year-over-year increases. Black Friday was the season’s biggest day in terms of volume with an increase of six per cent over last year; however, Dec. 21, the final Friday before Christmas, was the busiest in terms of number of transactions. This year, the Saturday before Christmas – Dec. 22 – took the number three spot in terms of dollars spent, while Boxing Day dropped to fourth, but still showed a volume increase of 5.57 per cent over the same period in 2017,” it said.

Moneris said the final quarter of the year saw Canadians continuing to embrace contactless payment solutions, with a 30.14 per cent increase in volume and a 27.68 per cent increase in transactions over the same time in 2017. While these increases continue to shrink quarter over quarter as more Canadians adopt contactless usage, the total share of contactless usage continues to rise – nearly half (47.75 per cent) of all transactions during the quarter were made through contactless channels, it said.

– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business

consumer spending

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