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Retail trade, May 2015

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Released: 2015-07-23

Retail sales

$43.0 billion

May 2015


(monthly change)

Retail sales rose 1.0% to $43.0 billion in May. After steep declines in December and January, retail sales increased for the third time in four months to reach a new high.

Sales were up in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 92% of retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms were up 0.4%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales up in May
Retail sales up in May

Motor vehicle and parts dealer sales rose 1.3% in May. This was entirely due to a 2.0% increase at new car dealers, the fourth consecutive gain for this store type. Used car dealers (-1.2%) reported lower sales for the first time in seven months.

Sales at gasoline stations increased 1.9%, marking the subsector's second gain since June 2014.

Receipts advanced 6.1% at electronics and appliance stores in May, but did not offset the decrease in April.

Higher sales were reported at food and beverage stores (+0.6%). Both supermarkets and other grocery stores and specialty food stores posted 1.0% gains. Sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (-0.7%) decreased for the second month in a row.

After declining the previous two months, sales at general merchandise stores were up 0.7%.

Store types traditionally associated with housing purchases and home renovation showed continued growth in May. Receipts at furniture and home furnishings stores (+ 0.3%) rose for the fourth consecutive month. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+1.9%) increased for the sixth straight month.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-1.8%) and clothing and clothing accessories stores (-0.5%) were the only subsectors to decline in May.

Sales up in nine provinces

Retail sales were up in nine provinces in May. Higher sales in Ontario, Nova Scotia and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia accounted for most of the increase.

Sales in Ontario (+1.2%) rose for the fourth consecutive month.

Nova Scotia (+7.3%) posted its largest monthly increase on record. Gains were reported across most store types in May, as prolonged winter weather in March and April may have in part delayed purchases.

Retail sales in British Columbia advanced 1.0% in May. The main contributors were higher sales at general merchandise stores and clothing stores.

Receipts in Alberta rose 0.4% as a result of higher sales at electronics and appliance stores and supermarkets and other grocery stores.

New Brunswick (+2.7%) reported higher retail sales for the fourth month in a row as a result of stronger sales at new car dealers.

Sales edged up 0.1% in Quebec.

Saskatchewan was the lone province to post weaker sales in May, edging down 0.1% following three straight monthly gains.

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

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

  Note to readers

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted and in current dollars, unless otherwise noted. For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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.

Next release

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


The May 2015 issue of Retail Trade (Catalogue number63-005-X) will soon be available.

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 Ashley Ker (613-951-2252;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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