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Quarterly Retail Commodity Survey, first quarter 2015

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Released: 2015-07-17

Retail sales reached $108.6 billion in the first quarter, up 1.9% from the first quarter of 2014. Higher sales were reported in 9 of the 10 major commodity groups.

Sales of motor vehicles, parts and services rose 6.4%, the eighth consecutive quarterly gain. For the first time since late 2012, the sales growth of used automotive vehicles (+9.4%) outpaced that of new automotive vehicles (+4.8%). Sales of new trucks, vans, mini-vans, sport utility vehicles and buses (+9.0%) accounted for the gains, more than offsetting the decline from new cars (-3.7%). Sales of automotive parts and accessories increased 6.2%, led by other automotive parts and accessories (+6.5%).

Sales receipts of food and beverages advanced 5.4%. The majority of this increase came from higher sales of food (+5.8%), led by price-induced gains for fresh meat and poultry (+9.3%) and fresh fruits and vegetables (+7.7%). Sales of candy, confectionary and snack foods increased 10.3% year over year, due in large part to an early Easter in 2015.

Retail sales of health and personal care items rose 5.9%, led by higher sales of prescription drugs (+4.7%) and personal care, health and beauty products (+6.7%).

Sales of clothing, footwear and accessories increased 7.7% year over year. Growth in women's clothing and accessories (+6.8%) and men's clothing and accessories (+6.0%) came largely from a higher volume of sales. Footwear sales rose 10.5%, on the strength of a 16.5% increase in women's and girls' non-athletic footwear.

Sales of hardware, lawn and garden products grew 7.0%. This reflected higher sales of lumber and other building products (+6.4%) as well as plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical equipment and supplies (+11.2%).

Automotive fuels, oils and additives sales fell 20.0% compared with the first quarter of 2014, the commodity grouping's largest decline since 2009. Automotive fuels (-20.4%) accounted for the majority of the decline as a result of lower prices at the pump.

  Note to readers

The Retail Commodity Survey collects data on national level retail sales by commodity, from a sub-sample of businesses in the Monthly Retail Trade Survey. Quarterly data have not been adjusted for seasonality. For example, no adjustment has been made for Easter, which occurred at the start of the second quarter of 2015 but took place later in the second quarter in 2014. All percentage changes are year over year.

Data have been revised back to the first quarter of 2014. The revisions take into account the late reporting or correction of respondent information and classification changes. Revised data are now available on CANSIM.

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