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Retail trade, December 2013

Released: 2014-02-21

Retail sales declined 1.8% in December to $40.2 billion. The decrease was widespread as lower sales were reported in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 79% of total retail trade.

In volume terms, sales declined 2.2%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales decrease in December - Description and data table
Retail sales decrease in December

Chart 1: Retail sales decrease in December - Description and data table

The largest decline in dollar terms was in the motor vehicle and parts subsector (-3.2%). Most of the decline came from lower sales at new car dealers (-3.6%). Despite December's monthly decline, sales at new car dealers were up 6.5% in 2013, the largest annual gain since 2010.

Receipts at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers fell 8.2%, as severe weather events affected many parts of the country in December. The monthly decline in December was the largest since early 2010, when the federal home renovation tax credit was terminated.

The largest increase in dollar terms came from a 3.5% sales gain at gasoline stations.

Weaker holiday sales

Most store types typically associated with the holiday shopping period registered weaker sales in December. Extreme weather conditions throughout the country were a factor.

Following gains in October (+3.5%) and November (+6.8%), sales at electronics and appliance stores declined 13.1% in December.

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores decreased 7.8%. Furniture stores (-8.7%) saw their sales decline to their lowest level since July 2005, while sales at home furnishings stores (-6.1%) were down for the third consecutive month, reaching their lowest level since August 2010.

General merchandise store receipts declined 1.9% in December. Higher sales at other general merchandise stores (+2.7%) failed to offset a 7.6% decline at department stores.

Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores declined 4.0%, more than offsetting the increase in November. The decrease was principally attributable to lower sales at hobby, toy and game stores.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores fell 2.2%. Declines were recorded in all store types in this subsector.

Sales decline in all provinces

Retail sales were down in all provinces in December.

Ontario (-2.2%) reported the largest decrease in dollar terms, with widespread declines across most store types.

After rising 1.8% in November, retail sales in British Columbia decreased 2.1% in December.

Following three consecutive monthly gains, retail sales in Quebec were down 1.2%.

Nova Scotia reported the largest decrease among the Atlantic provinces, declining 3.5%.

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.

At the end of each calendar year, seasonally adjusted monthly figures are revised to equal the sum of the unadjusted estimates. Revised seasonally adjusted figures are presented this month for September to November 2013. The complete revision of seasonally adjusted data for the 2013 calendar year will be released in April 2014.

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

Data on retail trade for January will be released on March 21.

Contact information

For more information, or to order data, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Kimberley Evans (613-951-0502;, Distributive Trades Division.

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