Canadian demand for new credit strongest in the auto sector



New data from Equifax Canada's Q2 National Consumer Credit Trends Report showed that demand for new credit is strongest in the auto sector, and is growing everywhere except Quebec.

The report also found that Canadians are still adding on debt, but at a slower rate seen in past quarters.

According to the report, total consumer debt is now at $1.568 trillion, driven primarily by the installment loan and auto loan sectors. In fact, debt in the auto loan sector increased by 3.9 percent year-over-year in Q2.

The average consumer debt is $21,164, which increased by 2.0 percent versus 2.7 percent in the previous quarter, the report stated.

"The overall trend we've seen with debt levels going up and delinquency rates coming down is still the case, but some of the sub-segments within the Canadian population are changing their behavior," explained Regina Malina, senior director of decision insights at Equifax Canada. "We're starting to see the impact of low oil prices in the West as these prices are forcing a new reality on Alberta and Saskatchewan in particular. In these two provinces the debt levels are stable, but the delinquency rate has started to increase."

As oil prices continue to slide, Equifax Canada reported Canada is slipping into a "mild recession," though the company also reported appetite for new credit is still on the rise, with the strongest activity observed in the auto, bank and national credit card sectors.

As far as delinquencies go, in mid-2015, it decreased to 1.09 percent after rising in Q1. And Equifax Canada reported auto loan delinquency rates continued to increase when compared to the previous quarter.

When compared to the same quarter last year, the national 90+ day delinquency rate decreased, as well, driving by improving rates in Ontario.

On the other hand, delinquency rates in Quebec and the Eastern region are on the rise.

And in the Western provinces, after delinquency declined over the past several year, the areas saw rates rise this past quarter.

This movement was driven, of course, by significant delinquency increases within the oil-heavy regions of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

A recent study from TransUnion asserted consumers and lenders should expect "sharp increases" in credit and loan product delinquencies in the near future, especially in the oil-heavy regions of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

"Based on an historical analysis of the last oil crash and recent payment behavior trends, we expect materially higher delinquency rates in Alberta and Saskatchewan in the second half of 2015," said Jason Wang, co-author of the study and TransUnion's director of research and industry analysis in Canada.

Taking a look at demographics, the delinquency rate for Canadians over 65 rose for the first time since 2010 by a rate of 2.4 percent in Q2, according to the Equifax Canada report.

"Delinquency rates for all other age groups are decreasing by different degrees, but for the first time in several years, we've seen this change in behavior from seniors," said Malina. "In the light of the fact that debt carried by seniors has been increasing faster than for other age groups for a while, we will monitor this trend closely in the coming quarters."

As for bankruptcies go, rates have consistently declined since 2009.

Equifax Canada reported Ontario continues to lead the pack in terms of the decline in bankruptcies.

The number of bankruptcies has decreased since 2009.

Ontario continues to lead in terms of the rate of decrease of bankruptcies.

That said, the report stated that average bankruptcy balances increased in Q2 year-over-year, driven primarily by the younger segments, as well as in the Western and Eastern regions.