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Data points: Inflation in B.C. hits lowest level since June 2021

Recovery in Asia-to-Canada travel helps boost B.C. travel figures
B.C. gasoline prices fell 6.1 per cent from August to September

In October, the consumer price index (CPI) for B.C. decelerated to a year-over-year 2.7 per cent, from 3.3 per cent in September.

It was the second consecutive month that inflation slowed and the lowest level of inflation since June 2021. However, it remains higher than what was observed in other western Canadian provinces. On a monthly basis, provincial CPI declined 0.1 per cent, its first monthly decline since December 2022.

Slowing inflation followed the national pattern – which went from 3.8 per cent in September to 3.1 per cent in October – but was significantly lower. Core CPI (which excludes energy and food) in B.C. was up 0.3 per cent from last month.

While it is the tenth consecutive monthly increase, it slowed on a year-over-year basis from 3.2 per cent in September to 3.1 per cent in October. Goods prices were down again by 0.7 per cent month to month – the same decline seen from August to September. Services prices increased by 0.3 per cent compared to the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, goods CPI was up only 0.1 per cent while services CPI was up 4.7 per cent.

Semi-durable goods prices saw a monthly increase of 1.3 per cent while durable goods were essentially flat, with a 0.1 per cent increase. Meanwhile, non-durable goods saw a 1.5-per-cent decrease in CPI. Energy prices were down 4.9 per cent for the month in addition to being down 9.3 per cent over the past 12 months. Food prices also declined 0.2 per cent monthly and the annual pace of price increases declined to 5.3 per cent from 5.9 per cent. Transportation and gasoline prices were down 1.1 per cent and 6.1 per cent monthly, respectively. Driving services prices higher were shelter costs, which rose 0.9 per cent for the month. This is lower than last month’s 1.2-per-cent increase. However, the year-over-year change increased from 6.1 per cent to 6.2 per cent.

Tourism inflows continued to rise with the number of non-resident visitors entering Canada through B.C. up again in September. On a seasonally adjusted basis, there were 3.6 per cent more non-resident visitors in September than in August at 708,784 people. Recent gains lifted non-resident visitors to a new high in 2023. The increase was driven by both same-day excursions, which were up 5.4 per cent, and overnight stays, up 2.6 per cent. A low Canadian dollar and robust U.S. economic growth have driven this upswing even as Canada’s economy falters.

The number of U.S residents visiting Canada through B.C. rose 3.3 per cent from August to September. During the same period, the number of residents from other countries surged. Among visiting U.S. residents, the increase in travel was concentrated in visits by automobile. These arrivals increased 5.7 per cent, while those arriving by plane rose 1.7 per cent. Other modes of transportation were down 1.1 per cent following an increase last month. Residents from other countries arriving by plane increased by six per cent, and those travelling by land and water increased by 1.5 per cent. This result was aligned with the national trend as the recovery of Asia-to-Canada travel improved in September. 

Bryan Yu is chief economist at  Central 1.