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Retail trade, May 2017

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Released: 2017-07-21

Retail sales — Canada

$48.9 billion

May 2017

0.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.8 billion

May 2017

0.4% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

May 2017

-2.9% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.3 billion

May 2017

0.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.1 billion

May 2017

1.2% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$10.3 billion

May 2017

-0.8% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$18.0 billion

May 2017

0.2% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.7 billion

May 2017

0.8% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.7 billion

May 2017

0.9% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.8 billion

May 2017

1.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$7.0 billion

May 2017

2.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales increased for the third consecutive month, rising 0.6% to $48.9 billion in May. Sales were up in 5 of 11 subsectors, representing 56% of total retail trade.

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were the main contributor to the gain. Excluding sales in this subsector, retail sales were down 0.1% in May.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms rose 1.1%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales increase in May
Retail sales increase in May

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers

Following a decrease in April, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers increased 2.4% in May. Higher sales at new car dealers (+2.7%) accounted for most of the gain at the subsector level. Used car dealers (+4.7%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+2.7%) also posted higher sales. Sales at other motor vehicle dealers (-4.2%) were down for the fourth time in five months.

Higher receipts were reported at food and beverage stores (+0.9%). The main contributors to the gain were supermarkets and other grocery stores (+0.9%) and beer, wine and liquor stores (+2.4%). Following a 3.5% increase in April, lower sales were reported at specialty food stores (-2.2%).

Sales at electronics and appliance stores (+1.2%) continued their upward trend in May, rising for a fifth consecutive month.

In the general merchandise stores subsector (-1.3%), sales were down for the first time in five months.

Sales at gasoline stations were affected by lower gasoline prices in May. Gasoline stations (-0.6%) posted their first sales decline in three months, despite a higher volume of gasoline sold.

Sales up in eight provinces

Retail sales were up in eight provinces in May.

British Columbia (+2.6%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, led by higher sales at new car dealers and, to a lesser extent, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers.

Sales in Alberta (+1.6%) rose for the ninth time in ten months.

Retail sales in Ontario edged up 0.2% in May, the seventh sales increase in nine months. Higher sales at new car dealers more than offset lower sales at general merchandise stores and health and personal care stores.

Following a 1.5% increase in April, sales in Quebec decreased 0.8% in May.

In New Brunswick (+1.2%), retail sales rose for the fifth consecutive month on higher sales at new car dealers.

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 $1.3 billion in May, accounting for 2.3% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 46.9% while total unadjusted retail sales rose 10.3%.

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.

The Canadian retail marketplace has changed and evolved over time to match the needs and preferences of consumers. Traditional five-and-dime and department stores have become a thing of the past. Long past are the days when there were 100 foot long lunch counters, tearooms and uniformed elevator operators. In 1934, 13% of total retail sales were purchased at a department store. As of 2014, that number had fallen to 5%.

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 June will be released on August 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 Jason Aston (613-951-0746;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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