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Retail trade, March 2013

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Released: 2013-05-22

Retail sales were flat in March, holding at $39.5 billion. After removing the effects of price changes, particularly lower gasoline prices, retail sales in volume terms rose 0.7%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales flat in March - Description and data table
Retail sales flat in March

Chart 1: Retail sales flat in March - Description and data table

Higher sales were reported in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 47% of total retail sales.

The largest increase in sales among all subsectors was a 3.1% rise at clothing and clothing accessories stores. Higher sales at clothing stores led the gain, rising 3.5%, the third increase in four months. Sales at shoe stores (+0.9%) advanced for a fourth straight month. Following three consecutive monthly declines, gains were reported by jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (+2.3%).

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 0.7%, a third consecutive monthly gain. Higher receipts at other motor vehicle dealers (+6.1%) and at new car dealers (+0.3%) accounted for most of the gain. The advance in sales in the "other motor vehicle dealers" industry did not offset the decline in February. This industry includes retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats.

Furniture and home furnishings stores posted a 0.3% increase in sales, reflecting stronger sales at furniture stores (+1.2%). Home furnishings stores (-1.0%) declined for a fourth month in a row.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers edged up 0.1%. Sales in this subsector have been relatively flat since the middle of 2012.

Gasoline station sales decreased 1.3% in March, mainly reflecting lower prices at the pump.

Following two consecutive monthly gains, sales at general merchandise stores declined 0.6% in March. Weaker sales were reported by department stores (-0.6%) and other general merchandise stores (-0.6%).

The 0.9% decrease in receipts at electronics and appliance stores did not offset the sales gain in February.

Sales up in six provinces

Retail sales rose in six provinces in March. Ontario (+0.4%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms and a third consecutive monthly sales gain. This increase was in part the result of higher sales at new car dealers.

The 0.9% rise in sales in British Columbia was led by gains at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Receipts in Quebec (+0.4%) and New Brunswick (+1.2%) both increased for a third straight month.

Retail sales in Nova Scotia (+0.6%) increased in March after three consecutive monthly declines.

Following two consecutive monthly gains, retailers in Alberta registered a 1.8% sales decline.

Retail sales in Saskatchewan (-1.7%) fell for a fourth straight month in March, with widespread declines across subsectors.

It is possible to consult tables of unadjusted data by industry and by province and territory in the Tables by subject module of our website.

For information on related indicators, refer to the Latest statistics page on our website.

  Note to readers

All the data in this release are seasonally adjusted and in current dollars, unless otherwise noted. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

Total retail sales expressed in volume are calculated by deflating current dollar values using consumer price indexes. The retail sales series in chained (2007) dollars is a chained Fisher volume index with 2007 as the reference year. For more information, see Calculation of Volume of Retail Trade Sales.

The March 2013 issue of Retail Trade (Catalogue number63-005-X) will soon be available.

Data on retail trade for April will be released on June 21.

Contact information

For more information, or to order data, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136;

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Ashley Ker (613-951-2252;, Distributive Trades Division.

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