Statistics Canada has launched the Real-time Local Business Conditions Index as an experimental statistic to measure business activity in real time during the pandemic and beyond. The index tracks business conditions in Calgary, Edmonton, Montréal, Ottawa–Gatineau, Toronto, Vancouver, and Winnipeg.
The Real-time Local Business Conditions Index is still evolving, and additional data sources are being tapped to better understand current business conditions in select cities. A rising index reflects improving business conditions in an urban centre, while a declining index signals deteriorating business conditions.
The Index has three components that combine alternative data sources with Statistics Canada's data holdings: the first is a static component to measure the economic size of a business district at the local level; the second tracks operating conditions of the businesses in a given area; and the third measures the level of business activity in the area using road traffic data.
The need for alternative data sources is of growing importance for both supplementing Statistics Canada's data holdings and for nowcasting economic activity. In response to this need, Statistics Canada initiated the development of a Real-Time Local Business Conditions Index (RT-LBCI). The index brings together data from a few different sources, including Google's Places API (containing data on temporary and permanent businesses closures), TomTom Real-time traffic API (road traffic data), as well as information from Statistics Canada data holdings (monthly retail and wholesale, Business Register, etc.). The project aims to compute a near real time index of economic activity in Canadian major cities.
For more information, please read the Real-Time Local Business Conditions Index: Concepts, data sources, and methodology note.