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Retail trade, April 2017

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Released: 2017-06-22

Retail sales — Canada

$48.6 billion

April 2017

0.8% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.8 billion

April 2017

-0.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

April 2017

0.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.3 billion

April 2017

-0.2% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.1 billion

April 2017

1.0% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$10.4 billion

April 2017

1.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$17.9 billion

April 2017

1.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.7 billion

April 2017

1.9% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.6 billion

April 2017

-4.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.7 billion

April 2017

0.5% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$6.8 billion

April 2017

0.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales rose 0.8% to $48.6 billion in April. Sales were up in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 71% of total retail trade. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales climbed 1.5%.

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

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales increase in April
Retail sales increase in April

Most subsectors report higher sales

The largest increase in dollar terms was a 2.1% increase at general merchandise stores.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.5%) increased for the eighth consecutive month. This subsector has been trending upward on the strength of higher sales of home appliances, hardware and tools. This was the largest percentage increase since May 2015.

Receipts at gasoline stations (+1.7%) were up for the seventh time in nine months. This gain reflected higher prices at the pump. According to the Consumer Price Index, on an unadjusted basis, the price of gasoline rose 9.5% in April.

After decreasing 3.3% in March, sales bounced back at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+3.1%) in April. Gains were reported in all store types, led by clothing stores (+2.1%).

Receipts at food and beverage stores rose 0.6% in April. Higher sales were reported at all store types within the subsector. Sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (+1.6%) and specialty food stores (+3.3%) were the main contributors to the increase.

Following a 2.3% rise in March, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers decreased 1.0% in April. The decrease stemmed from lower sales at new car dealers (-1.7%) and, to a much lesser extent, used car dealers (-1.7%). Sales at other motor vehicle dealers (+8.2%) rose for the first time in four months.

Retail sales up in seven provinces

Retail sales were up in seven provinces in April. Higher sales in Ontario and Quebec accounted for the majority of the increase.

Ontario (+1.1%) reported the largest growth in dollar terms, as gains were observed in 9 of 11 subsectors.

Following two months of declines, Quebec recorded a 1.6% increase on the strength of gains across most store types.

Alberta (+0.5%) reported higher sales in April, the eighth increase in nine months. The growth was largely attributable to higher sales at gasoline stations and other motor vehicle dealers.

In Manitoba, retail sales rose for the fifth time in six months (+1.9%).

After eight consecutive months of growth, sales in Saskatchewan registered a 4.1% decline, following an increase in the provincial sales tax at the end of March. Excluding lower sales at new car dealers, retail sales in Saskatchewan increased.

E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers

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

Retail e-commerce sales were $1.2 billion in April, accounting for 2.5% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 41.6%, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 4.7%.

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

Many of today's retailers are considered to be multi-channel, providing customers with the ability to purchase goods in a variety of ways: at a brick and mortar store, online through their desktop or mobile device, or by telephone. The Monthly Retail Trade Survey first published monthly E-commerce sales in 2016.

However the concept of non-store retailing is not new. Mail order catalogues can be thought of as a precursor to modern online shopping. Mail order catalogues first became available in Canada in the late 1800s. These catalogues offered a wide variety of products and allowed retailers to reach more rural customers.

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

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 include the electronic sales of two distinct types of retailers. The first type 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 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.

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 (2012) dollars is a chained Fisher volume index with 2012 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 in the near future. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on retail trade for May will be released on July 21.

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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