Recreation vehicle, boat sales revved up in July

With COVID keeping Canadians closer to home this summer, sales of recreational vehicles, sporting equipment and home hardware items have soared, according to Statistics Canada data released Oct. 13.

The ‘staycation’ concept advocated by the tourism sector seems to have paid off as consumers had higher than normal spending on products to be enjoyed outdoors.

Spending on recreational vehicles was up 47.3% for July compared with July 2019; sporting and leisure categories were up 29.8%.

Leading the increase in the categories were new recreational boats (up 58.2%), new motorhomes, travel trailers and truck campers (up 47.4%) and hunting, fishing and camping equipment (up 40.2%).

Canadians were spending more around the home as well. Hardware and renovation supplies were up 83.3%, major home appliances up 20.2% and small home appliances up 41.3%.

National retail sales reached $57.2 billion dollars in July, up 4.8% compared with July 2019, Statistics Canada reported.

The national agency said the increase marked the second consecutive increase in year-over-year sales for the sector, with sales reported in 12 of the 19 commodity categories monitored.

The agency said advance estimates for August provided by the Monthly Retail Trade Survey suggest unadjusted total retail sales increased by 1.7%. The agency cautioned the figure is preliminary and subject to revision.

StatsCan said Canadians’ new habit of eating at home has persisted for the fifth consecutive month with sales of food showing the largest year-over-year with an increase at 12.1%.

And, food and beverage sales accounted for just over one-quarter (25.9%) of all retail receipts in July, up from 24.1% in July 2019. But, while those sales continue to represent a larger than average market share, that share declined considerably from the record high seen in April (38.0%).

The product sector’s largest gains were seen in:
• fresh fruit and vegetables (+14.5%);
• fresh meat and poultry (+14.7%); and
• eggs and dairy products (+14.4%).

Beverage sales were up 14.8%, led by alcohol, up 14.3% from a year earlier.

But, as people stayed home, sales of automotive and household fuels represented the sector’s largest decline, down 22.4%.

The agency said the decline was primarily due to automotive fuels, with sales at the pump down $1.1 billion on a year-over-year basis.

And, while some consumer spending has begun a rebound, motor vehicle sales continued to lag in July, down 1.3% from a year prior.

It was new vehicle sales holding back the category, with sales decreasing 4.9%. This was the fifth straight month of negative growth in this category.

Consumers continued to look for deals in the used car market, which saw its second consecutive month of positive growth, up 13.1% in June and 4.6% in July.

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Covid-19 Cases Are Back To July Levels, And Rising Fast

Here we go again. Seven months into the coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19 numbers are going in the wrong direction in 29 of 50 states.

Despite President Trump saying repeatedly that Covid-19 is “going away,” the data shows that the virus is not going anywhere.

The U.S. is seeing widespread increases in Covid-19 cases at the same level the country was at just after the July 4th holiday weekend, prior to the big summer surge. This has public health experts concerned that the country is heading for a third spike.

“We have a baseline of infections that vary between 40 and 50 thousand per day,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told CNBC’s Shepard Smith yesterday. “That’s a bad place to be when you’re going into the cooler weather of the fall and the colder weather of the winter.”

Meanwhile, domestic air travel has been ticking up, too. Last month, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than 900,000 passengers on just two days, both during Labor Day weekend, according to the agency’s throughput data. The TSA has already hit that milestone on four days in October, and the month isn’t even half over.

For Americans trying to figure out whether it’s safe to take an upcoming business or leisure trip during the latest surge, several excellent tools can help make sense of the trends.

If your travel dates are imminent, turn to the Covid-19 risk-assessment map run by Harvard Global Health Institute and Brown School of Public Health. The color-coded map provides an easy way for Americans to assess how quickly the disease is spreading in a state or county. Each community has a rating of green, yellow, orange or red, based upon the number of new daily cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people over a seven-day rolling average.

With coronavirus hot spots sprawling across the Midwest and Mountain West, nearly one in three states is now colored red, meaning the community is “at a tipping point” for Covid-19 infections. The number of high-risk states has jumped from four to 13 in the past month.

If your trip is still a week or more away, there is a better metric to look at. According to Dr. Fauci, the best predictor of the next hot spot is a rising positivity rate. You can consult Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 tracking map to find out which states are most likely to turn into hot spots.

MORE FROM FORBESTravel Tool: This Map Can Predict The Next Covid-19 Hot Spots

Right now, a whopping 25 states — exactly half the country — have reported rising

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