The Daily
 In the news  Indicators  Releases by subject
 Special interest  Release schedule  Information

Retail trade, February 2017

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Released: 2017-04-26

Retail sales — Canada

$47.8 billion

February 2017

-0.6% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.8 billion

February 2017

-1.5% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

February 2017

-2.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.2 billion

February 2017

-4.5% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.0 billion

February 2017

0.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$10.3 billion

February 2017

-0.5% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$17.5 billion

February 2017

-0.6% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.6 billion

February 2017

-0.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.7 billion

February 2017

0.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.6 billion

February 2017

-0.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$6.6 billion

February 2017

-0.7% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales declined 0.6% to $47.8 billion in February, following a 2.3% increase in January. Sales were down in 5 of 11 subsectors, representing 67% of total retail sales.

Lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations were the main contributors to the decline. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.5%.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms edged down 0.1%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales decrease in February
Retail sales decrease in February

Motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations lead the decline

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-1.8%) were down for the first time in seven months, largely reflecting weaker sales at new car (-1.7%) and other motor vehicle (-5.5%) dealers. Following gains in January, sales were 1.3% lower at used car dealers.

Gasoline stations (-3.6%) posted their first sales decline in three months, largely reflecting lower prices at the pump.

Following an increase in January, receipts at food and beverage stores decreased 0.4% in February. Lower sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (-1.7%) was the main contributor to the decline. Sales at specialty food stores (-0.6%) also declined, while supermarkets and other grocery stores sales were relatively unchanged from January.

Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-0.8%) posted their first decline in six months.

Receipts at electronics and appliance stores edged down 0.2%, following a 5.4% increase in January.

Sales at health and personal care stores (+2.0%) rose for the second month in a row.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores reported a 2.2% sales gain in February. Higher sales at clothing (+3.4%) and shoe (+2.0%) stores more than offset the 6.2% decline at jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores.

Sales down in eight provinces

Retail sales were down in eight provinces in February.

Ontario (-0.6%) reported the largest decrease in dollar terms, led by lower sales at new car dealers.

In Nova Scotia (-4.5%), lower sales were reported at motor vehicle and parts dealers as well as building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. Severe winter weather events were a factor.

Sales in Quebec were down 0.5% on lower sales at used car dealers and gasoline stations.

In Saskatchewan (+0.6%), retail sales advanced for the seventh consecutive month on higher sales at new and used car dealers.

Retail sales in New Brunswick (+0.3%) rose for the sixth time in seven months.

E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers

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

On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were $939 million in February, accounting for 2.4% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 27.4% while total unadjusted retail sales rose 3.2%.

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

For information on related indicators, refer to Latest statistics.

  Note to readers

Starting with the April 2017 release of February data, estimates for the Monthly Retail Trade Survey are being calculated using a new sample. The sample design has been modified to improve efficiency. The sample is periodically refreshed to take advantage of improvements made to the Business Register since the last sample selection, reflecting births, deaths and other changes to the survey population. In addition, the survey estimation methodology has been enhanced to use more administrative data. Seasonal adjustment specifications and factors were reviewed and updated.

Regular annual revisions from 2016 and typical historical revisions are also included in the new data series.

The data have been revised using historical linkage factors designed to preserve the continuity of the time series. The linkage method leads to larger revisions for more recent periods.

Seasonally adjusted estimates in CANSIM table 080-0020 have been revised back to 2009. Unadjusted estimates in CANSIM table 080-0020 have been adjusted back to 2012. Volume estimates and indices in CANSIM table 080-0024 have been revised back to 2004, reflecting a change in the base year from 2007 to 2012.

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 are classified to North American Industry Classification System (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 online operations of a brick and mortar retailer are separately managed, they too are classified to NAICS 45411.

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.

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.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM tables 080-8020 and 080-8024 will be updated on May 8. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on retail trade for March will be released on May 19.

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.

Date modified: