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Retail trade, September 2016

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Released: 2016-11-22

Retail sales — Canada

$44.4 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.8 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.2 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.0 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$9.5 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$16.0 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.6 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.5 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.1 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$6.3 billion

September 2016


(monthly change)

Following four months of little change, retail sales rose 0.6% to $44.4 billion in September on the strength of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Sales were up in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 65% of retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales increased 0.6%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales advance in September
Retail sales advance in September

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

The largest increase in dollar terms was a 2.4% advance at motor vehicle and parts dealers. This was the first gain in three months and was mainly attributable to new car dealers (+2.8%).

Sales at gasoline stations rose 0.9%, marking the fifth gain in six months for the subsector. The gain in September reflected higher prices at the pump.

Following a 0.4% decrease in August, sales at general merchandise stores (+0.4%) bounced back in September.

The gains at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+0.7%) and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (+0.2%) more than offset the declines in August.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores (+0.2%) edged up in September, but did not offset the decline in August. Results were mixed among store types as clothing stores (+0.2%) and jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (+0.8%) more than offset the decline at shoe stores (-0.7%).

Sales at electronics and appliance stores (+0.3%) increased for the fifth consecutive month, marking the first time since mid-2008 that sales in this subsector have posted five consecutive gains.

Receipts at food and beverage stores decreased 0.8% in September. Lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.7%) as well as beer, wine and liquor stores (-1.8%) were the main contributors to the decline. According to the Consumer Price Index, prices for food purchased from stores recorded their first year-over-year decline since March 2008, down 0.9% in the 12 months to September.

Sales at health and personal care stores (-0.6%) and miscellaneous store retailers (-0.3%) were also down in September.

Sales up in eight provinces

Retail sales were up in eight provinces in September. Higher sales in Quebec (+0.9%), Ontario (+0.4%) and British Columbia (+0.9%) accounted for most of the increase.

Retailers in Quebec reported a 0.9% gain in September due in large part to higher sales of trucks at new car dealers.

Following a 0.3% decline in August, retail sales rose 0.4% in Ontario. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers more than offset lower sales at food and beverage stores.

Sales in British Columbia (+0.9%) increased for the fourth consecutive month.

Following a 0.2% gain in August, retail sales in Alberta were up 0.3% on the strength of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Results were mixed among other subsectors.

In the Atlantic provinces, sales were up for the second time in three months in both New Brunswick (+1.7%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.5%). In Nova Scotia (+0.8%), retail sales increased for the third consecutive month. In Prince Edward Island (+3.9%), sales rose on the strength of higher sales at new car dealers, which preceded an increase in the harmonized sales tax in the province.

Introducing a new data series: E-Commerce sales by Canadian retailers

The figures in this section are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates.

Retail e-commerce is the combination of retail sales made over the Internet by traditional store retailers and retail sales made over the Internet by non-store retailers in the electronic shopping and mail order houses industry.

On an unadjusted basis, e-commerce sales by Canadian retailers in September were $958 million, accounting for 2.1% of total retail sales in Canada.

In the first nine months of 2016, the e-commerce proportion of total retail sales has ranged from 1.9% in July to 2.3% in January.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Canadian retailers' e-commerce sales, value and proportion of total retail sales, January to September 2016
Canadian retailers' e-commerce sales, value and proportion of total retail sales, January to September 2016

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.

Statistics Canada's retail e-commerce figures are disseminated in unadjusted form. As a result, one must use caution when comparing retail sales that are seasonally adjusted [CANSIM 080-0020] in the Daily with retail e-commerce figures [CANSIM 080-0033].

Statistics Canada's retail e-commerce figures include the electronic sales of two distinct types of retailers. The first is retailers that do not have a storefront. These businesses are commonly referred to as 'pure-play' Internet retailers and they are classified to NAICS 45411 – Electronic Shopping and Mail Order Houses. The second type of retailer is those that have a storefront and are commonly referred to as 'brick and mortar' retailers. If the on-line operations of a brick and mortar retailer are separately managed, they too are classified to NAICS 45411.

Although Internet sales represent a high proportion of the NAICS 45411 industry group, sales in this industry also include mail-order and catalogue transactions.

CANSIM 080-0033 represents the Internet sales of Canadian based retailers. The foreign e-commerce purchases from Canadian based retailers are included in the Internet sales totals. Conversely, Internet purchases by Canadians from foreign-based retailers are not included in Statistics Canada's retail trade figures.

On-line purchases of goods by Canadian consumers, from foreign located retailers are embedded in Statistics Canada's imports goods data series. In 2015, the value of all Canadian postal imports, which includes imports of on-line purchases, was estimated to be $1.8 billion.

Common electronic commerce transactions, such as travel and accommodation bookings, ticket purchases and financial transactions are not included in Canadian retail sales figures. For more information on individual Internet use and e-commerce, consult the most recent release of the Canadian Internet Use Survey and/or the Survey of Digital Technology and Internet Use.

For more information on retail e-commerce in Canada, see Retail E-Commerce in Canada

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 public is also invited to chat with an expert on this study, on Thursday, November 24, 2016, from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m., Eastern Time.

Real-time CANSIM tables

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

Next release

Data on retail trade for October will be released on December 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 Xinye Yang (613-951-7541; or Jason Aston (613-951-0746;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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