June 16, 2020 / 4:39 PM / 2 months ago

Canadian consumer debt inches lower for the first time in a decade

FILE PHOTO: A man checks his cellphone in the financial district as the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to grow in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio


(Reuters) - Canada’s quarterly consumer debt fell for the first time in more than a decade as coronavirus-driven shutdowns crimped credit card spending in March, credit monitoring company Equifax said in a report on Tuesday.

The average consumer debt per Canadian fell 0.5% to C$23,386 ($17,233.60) in the first quarter.

“With stores and restaurants shut down, consumers were able to cut back on their spending in March,” Bill Johnston, Equifax Canada’s vice president of data and analytics, said in the report.

People between the ages of 18 and 25 saw the biggest decline in consumer debt at more than 1%. Their average consumer debt was also the lowest at C$8,588.

The report showed that people between the ages of 46 and 55 raked up the most consumer debt at C$35,818 a person on average. They were one of only two groups that saw their debt grow in the quarter, with the other being people between the ages of 56 and 65.

Consumer insolvencies, which had been growing at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis before the pandemic, plunged here in April, helped by government support programs and mortgage deferrals.

Reporting by Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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