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Retail trade, February 2016

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Released: 2016-04-22

Retail sales

$44.2 billion

February 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales rose for the second consecutive month, advancing 0.4% to $44.2 billion in February. Gains were reported in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 89% of total retail trade.

The gain in February was tempered by lower sales at gasoline stations. Excluding sales in this subsector, retail sales advanced 1.0%.

After removing the effects of price changes, particularly lower gasoline prices, retail sales in volume terms increased 1.5%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales up in February
Retail sales up in February

Most subsectors post higher sales in February

The largest increase in dollar terms was a 1.0% advance at motor vehicle and parts dealers, led by a 9.7% sales gain at other motor vehicle dealers, which include retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats. Higher sales were also reported at used car dealers (+4.4%) and new car dealers (+0.3%) in February. Sales at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+0.5%) increased for the fourth time in five months.

Following a 4.6% gain in January, sales at general merchandise stores rose 1.9%.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales advanced 2.7% in February. The increase was largely due to higher sales at clothing stores (+2.5%). Sales at shoe stores (+3.6%) and jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (+3.2%) also played a part in the subsector increase.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+1.3%) continued their upward trend in February, rising for the sixth time in seven months.

Increased sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (+2.0%) more than offset declines in December and January.

Receipts at food and beverage stores rose 0.2%. Results were mixed among store types. Higher sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (+2.2%) more than offset lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.4%). Convenience stores (+0.7%) and specialty food stores (+0.6%) reported gains.

Gasoline stations sales down eight months in a row

Sales at gasoline stations (-4.9%) continued their downward trend in February, recording the largest decline in dollar terms among all subsectors. Sales in this subsector have decreased for eight consecutive months to reach their lowest level since August 2010.

Sales up in eight provinces

Retail sales were up in eight provinces in February.

Ontario (+0.6%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, posting stronger sales across most store types.

Sales in British Columbia (+1.0%) advanced for the third time in four months.

Receipts in Quebec rose 0.3%, as higher sales were reported at general merchandise stores.

Nova Scotia (+1.1%) posted its first gain in three months, while sales were up in Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.5%), New Brunswick (+0.8%) and Prince Edward Island (+0.8%).

Receipts in Alberta (-0.4%) decreased for the fifth time in six months. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were more than offset by lower sales at gasoline stations.

Following four straight monthly increases, sales in Saskatchewan fell 0.4% as a result of lower sales at gasoline stations.

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.

With this release, unadjusted monthly data were revised back to January 2015, while seasonally adjusted data were revised back to January 2012. Factors influencing revisions include late receipt of respondent information, corrections to the information provided, the replacement of estimated figures with actual values (once available), the re-classification of companies within, into and out of the retail trade industry, and updates to seasonal factors.

Data in volume terms have also been revised back to January 2012.

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

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 080-8020 and 080-8024 will be updated on April 29. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on retail trade for March will be released on May 20.

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 Jason Aston (613-951-0746;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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