Commercial market to reel from the impact of consumer insolvency

In a new analysis, the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals warned that the commercial property segment will labour under the burden of growing consumer insolvency.

“Businesses will also feel the effects of a slowdown in consumer spending as Canadians react to the softening housing market and adjust their household budgets to account for larger interest payments in order to service debt,” CAIRP board member David Lewis stated.

Construction, real estate, and rental and leasing are also likely to disproportionately suffer from this impact. The proportion of Canadian businesses that filed for bankruptcy in January rose by 10.1% year-over-year in January, and 2.1% from December 2018.

“After 17 consecutive years of steady decline, business insolvencies in Canada have reached a plateau and will likely rise in 2019,” Lewis said.

“Weaker exports, slowing job growth, tightening lending conditions, rising interest rates and consumer debt are all contributing factors.”

Read more: Retail chain failures should give would-be investors pause

Crucially, the CAIRP has forecast that the number of consumer insolvencies nationwide will continue growing over the next two years, mainly propelled by larger, more onerous household debts. The share of Canadians who filed for insolvency in January was 7.1% larger than a year ago, and 11.6% greater on a month-over-month basis.

“The rise in consumer insolvency filings is a direct result of the interest rate increases since 2017. Those living pay cheque to pay cheque are struggling to meet their debt repayment obligations,” CAIRP chair Chantal Gingras said.

“Many Canadians may be technically insolvent in terms of being unable to pay their bills, but they haven’t sought debt relief yet. That said, the number of consumer insolvencies are likely to continue to increase over the next two years as more individuals seek help.”

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