Saskatchewan had the highest year-over-year increase in retail sales of any province in Canada in March, according to Statistics Canada figures released Thursday.

Retail sales totaled $1.1 billion, up by 10.7 per cent from March 2007, marking the first time retail sales surpassed the $1-billion mark for the month.

The next largest year-over-year sales increase was Manitoba at 5.7 per cent followed by Nova Scotia at 2.1 per cent. Alberta sales were flat at zero per cent while B.C. sales rose slightly by 0.8 per cent.

The national average was down by 0.1 per cent, with retail sales decreases in four provinces, notably Ontario and Quebec, which saw decreases of one per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively.

By contrast, Saskatchewan’s retail sales have increased on a year-over-year basis every month since September 2004 – 42 consecutive months.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, Saskatchewan retail sales advanced 2.1 per cent from February to March, the second-highest percentage increase in Canada, just behind the 2.3-per-cent increase recorded for Manitoba

“These are historical numbers and are the upside of a strong economy that is creating more opportunities courtesy of higher commodity and resource prices,” Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart said in a press release.

“Retail sales increases are a strong indicator that individuals and families have been able to take advantage of the jobs and business opportunities, which improves purchasing power, and ultimately leads to a better quality of life,” Stewart said.

Source : Leader-Post, Canada