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Retail trade, January 2016

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Released: 2016-03-18

Retail sales

$44.2 billion

January 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales rose 2.1% to $44.2 billion in January, led by five subsectors that rebounded from lower sales in December. Gains were reported in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 82% of total retail sales.

The increase in January was indicative of higher volumes sold, as constant dollar sales rose 2.1%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales up in January
Retail sales up in January

Most subsectors post higher sales in January, led by motor vehicle and parts dealers

The largest increase in dollar terms was a 4.8% advance at motor vehicle and parts dealers. This was the third gain in four months. The increase in this subsector was mainly attributable to new car dealers (+5.3%). Gains were also reported at other motor vehicle dealers (+4.0%), used car dealers (+2.2%), and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+1.6%).

The sales increase at general merchandise stores (+4.9%) in January was the first in three months, and more than offset the weather-influenced decline in December.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.0%) rose for the sixth consecutive month. The main product type sold in this subsector is lumber and other building materials, accounting for about 40% of sales.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores (+1.2%) advanced in January but did not offset the decline in December. Higher sales were reported at all store types within the subsector, led by a 6.6% rise at shoe stores.

Receipts were relatively unchanged at food and beverage stores. Results were mixed among store types. Higher sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (+0.6%) more than offset lower sales at convenience stores (-2.5%) and beer, wine and liquor stores (-0.5%).

Sales at gasoline stations (-1.6%) continued their downward trend in January, recording the largest decline in dollar terms. Sales in this subsector have declined for seven consecutive months to reach their lowest level since October 2010.

Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-3.4%) declined for the second consecutive month.

Sales up in eight provinces

Retail sales were up in eight provinces in January, after falling in every province except Prince Edward Island in December.

In five provinces, the rise in January more than offset the decline in December. Sales in Ontario (+2.8%) and Quebec (+2.9%) rose primarily on the strength of higher sales at new car dealers. The 2.3% increase in British Columbia was more widespread across various store types. In Manitoba (+2.8%), sales rose for the eighth time in nine months. The 0.8% gain in Saskatchewan essentially offset the decline in December.

Receipts in Alberta (-0.2%) decreased for the fourth time in five months. Higher sales at new car dealers were more than offset by lower sales at gasoline stations.

Retail sales in Prince Edward Island edged down 0.1% in January.

Summary tables of unadjusted data by industry and by province and territory are now available from 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 expressed 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.

For information on trend-cycle data, see the StatCan Blog and Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

The Retail Trade publication (Catalogue number63-005-X) is no longer available. All data from the Monthly Retail Trade Survey are released in CANSIM.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 080-8020 and 080-8024 will be updated on April 1. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on retail trade for February will be released on April 22.

Contact information

For more information, 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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