COVID Consumer Spending Tracker (June 2021)

By Nathan Janzen and Rannella Billy-Ochieng
Published June 22, 2021 | 2 min read

Canadian household spending lifts off in early June

  • Spending picked up as many regions began to loosen restrictions.
  • After cooling off in April and May, retail sales are tracking ~5% higher to-date in early June (controlling for normal seasonal fluctuations) – and that’s before non-essential retailers re-opened in Ontario.
  • Even travel spending is showing a pulse for the first time in more than a year.
  • Green shoots are emerging within the hard hit hospitality sector, as spending at restaurants and on lodging both are tracking substantially higher in June.

RBC Economics, RBC Data & Analytics - Spending accelerates as economy begins to reopen graph image

RBC Economics, RBC Data & Analytics - Green shoots: spending ticks up in battered hospitality sector graph image

RBC Economics, RBC Data & Analytics - Travel spending includes : Travel, Travel agencies, Airlines and Car rental - Travel spending showing early signs of life graph image

RBC Economics, RBC Data & Analytics - Clothing sales climb higher as shoppers embrace reopening graph image

RBC logo Report image
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To view past reports, please visit the COVID Consumer Spending Tracker.

RBC’s consumer spending tracking report uses RBC Data & Analytics’ proprietary database of anonymized card transactions by Canadian clients. The data are an accounting of merchant transactions that are divided into various spending categories covering tens of millions of weekly card transactions worth billions of dollars each week. Transactions, both in person and online, are classified into 11 broad spending groups: Dining, Education, Finances, Groceries, Health, Household, Shopping, Transport, Travel, Utilities, and Other. Within each group, the data are further classified: for example, shopping covers merchants classified as clothing stores, hobby shops, electronics stores, and jewellers, among others. We exclude purely financial transactions such as cash advances and insurance from spending.

We examined changes in the value of all transactions in these areas using a 7 day rolling sample starting January 1st of each year that is indexed to pre-covid levels which are calculated as the average spending for the month of February 2020. To examine the impact of seasonal factors, we also show each’s year spending profile which depicts monthly trends in spending. Online spending volumes are estimated based on the presence of an RBC card at the time of the authorization. Protecting your privacy and safeguarding your personal information is a cornerstone of our organizational ethics and values and will always be one of our highest priorities. The underlying data for this analysis was aggregated based on transaction date, region and merchant category, and cannot be used to identify any individual client or merchant. For additional information please visit

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.