Commercial Activity Report - 2019 Q4

The BCREA Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) has decreased to 134.3 in 2019 Q4 for the second straight month. Looking back at the same time last year, the CLI has increased by 0.3%. The provincial economic activity slowed down which can be attributed to a slow down in the wholesale trade (2.0% decrease) and manufacturing sales (0.6% decease) despite retail sales seeing an increase of 0.8%

The economic activity component of the CLI has been negative for the sixth consecutive quarter. The economic activity component follows the overall trend in the BC economy and reflects changes in economic variables shown to lead commercial real estate activity.

The employment component of the CLI has also seen a negative change due to a decline in manufacturing employment despite office employment increasing. The employment component reflects changes in the commercial real estate environment due to changes in the overall business cycle.

The financial component of the CLI has also seen a negative change despite seeing three consecutive quarters of positive performance. The financial component acts as an early warning indicator from financial markets that could signal turning points in the commercial real estate market.

The underlying trend in the CLI has been relatively flat over the past six quarters, suggesting a continued stable environment for commercial real estate activity in the province. 

The slowdown in BC's economy can be attributed to weak manufacturing sales in durable goods and lower wholesale trade sales in motor vehicles and machinery and equipment. On the contrary, retail sales were positive after two consecutive quarters of negative growth. However, retail sales saw the lowest growth rate since the 2009 financial crisis.

There has been an increase of 1,600 jobs in the fourth quarter in 2019 for key commercial real estate sectors which include finance, insurance, real estate and leasing. On the other hand, there has been a decrease of 6,700 jobs in the manufacturing sector last quarter.

Source: British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA)

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