BC commercial activity remained stable in the third quarter


Provincial economic conditions in British Columbia continued to slow in the third quarter of 2019 with weakness in some sectors.

But the overall picture for commercial real estate was stable despite a slight drop in the Commercial Leading Indicator (CLI) from the British Columbia Real Estate Association.

The index slipped to 135.3, the same level it was at in the third quarter of 2018.

Retail and manufacturing stats declined in the third quarter, with lower sales for petroleum and coal, and lower retail sales at gasoline stations and auto dealers. But there were gains for wholesale trade, especially machinery and equipment. However, the overall economic element of the CLI remained negative for the fifth consecutive quarter.

The employment element was positive as office employment gained for a fifth straight quarter – to an all-time high – while manufacturing employment weakened. Employment growth in key commercial real estate sectors such as finance, insurance, real estate and leasing continues to be strong, up by 7,600 jobs in the third quarter. Manufacturing lost 4,200 jobs.

The financial element of the CLI was also positive, for the third straight quarter, due to an increase in benchmark Canadian REIT prices, which more than offset the expansion of short term credit spreads.

The overall CLI has been relatively stable across the past five quarters.