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Retail trade, August 2016

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Released: 2016-10-21

Retail sales — Canada

$44.0 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.7 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.2 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.0 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$9.4 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$15.9 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.6 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.5 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.1 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$6.2 billion

August 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales edged down 0.1% to $44.0 billion in August. Lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, and general merchandise stores were the main contributors to the decline. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.2%.

Sales were down in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 57% of retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.3%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales edge down in August
Retail sales edge down in August

Weaker sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, and general merchandise stores

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were down 0.5% in August, in large part because of weaker sales at new car dealers (-1.1%) and, to a much lesser extent, used car dealers (-0.6%). Following declines in July, sales rose at other motor vehicle dealers (+5.4%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+1.1%). The gains at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores were concentrated in Ontario and Quebec.

General merchandise stores (-0.9%) recorded their third decline in four months.

After increasing 1.5% in July, sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down 0.5% in August.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores posted a 0.5% sales decline. Sales at clothing stores (-0.7%) and jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (-0.4%) were both down, following increases in July. Shoe store sales (+0.6%) rose for the third time in four months.

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores increased 1.7% in August. Higher sales were reported at both furniture stores (+2.0%) and home furnishings stores (+1.3%).

Gains were also recorded at health and personal care stores (+0.7%) and gasoline stations (+0.5%), where sales increased for the fourth time in five months.

Following relatively flat sales in July, sales at food and beverage stores edged up 0.2% in August. The main contributors to the gain were beer, wine and liquor stores (+2.6%) and, to a lesser extent, convenience stores (+1.9%). After increasing 0.5% in July, receipts at supermarkets and other grocery stores fell 0.5% in August, returning to their level in June. For the first time in three months, specialty food stores (-0.2%) recorded lower sales.

Sales down in six provinces

Retail sales declined in six provinces in August.

Ontario (-0.7%) recorded the largest decrease in dollar terms. The main contributors were lower sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, and general merchandise stores.

In Saskatchewan, sales were down 0.4%, as results were mixed among store types.

Retail sales in Quebec were relatively unchanged in August, as lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, and general merchandise stores more than offset higher sales at most other store types.

Retail sales edged down 0.1% in Alberta, the fourth consecutive monthly decrease. Retail sales in Alberta have trended downward since late 2015.

In Manitoba, sales were up 1.7%, mainly as a result of widespread gains at most store types.

In the Atlantic provinces, sales were up for the second time in three months in Nova Scotia (+1.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.7%), and New Brunswick (+1.0%). In Prince Edward Island (-1.4%), retail sales were down for the third consecutive month.

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.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 080-8020 and 080-8024 will be updated on October 28. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on retail trade for September will be released on November 22. The release of September data will include a new data series that measures the online retail sales of Canadian-based retailers.

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 Xinye Yang (613-951-7541;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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