Saskatchewan leads the pack as auto sales grow

It’s a good time to be a car salesperson, especially in Saskatchewan.

Recent data published by Desrosiers Automotive Reports shows large increases in automotive sales in Western Canada, led by Saskatchewan at 15 per cent.

Things aren’t so rosy out east, where every province east of Ontario, except for Nova Scotia, has seen a decline compared to this time last year.

Nationwide, Canadian car dealerships have already reached $1 million in sales as of the end of June, putting them on pace to do $2 million this year, a feat never before seen in Canadian car sales.

According to Canadian Automobile Dealers Association chief economist Michael Hatch, this speaks to an overall rosy outlook on the economy.

“Saskatchewan is leading the entire country this year with sales growth. You guys are really on fire in terms of the number of vehicles people are buying,” he said.

“(This) is a solid indicator for the greater economy at large.”

The way things are shaping up, 2017 could be the fifth straight record year in terms of car sales.

“For th first time in history in the Canadian market we hit $1 million in the first six months of the year. That puts us well on pace for $2 million, which we’ve never done before.”

Hatch said Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are outperforming the national average in terms of economic growth, and the car sales reflect that.

“People need to have confidence if they’re making a purchase as significant as a new vehicle,” he said.

“Ninety per cent of new car buyers need financing of some sort. Most people aren’t walking in with $25,000 in cash to make a purchase. In order to carry that debt, people need to know they have income over the life of the loan.”

That economic growth and wage growth, Hatch said, isn’t unique to Saskatchewan. He was in Edmonton a few weeks ago, speaking to a group of car dealers. They see the economy turning around.

“There’s a great deal of recovery in the air,” he said.

Alberta had a couple of difficult years in 2015 and 2016 with what was going on with energy markets, oil prices and the recession in that province, but they have really bounced back big time,” Hatch said.

“There’s a great deal of recovery in Alberta, and with the numbers we are seeing across the west. The same is certainly true in Saskatchewan as well.”