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Retail trade, August 2017

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Released: 2017-10-20

Retail sales — Canada

$48.9 billion

August 2017

-0.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.8 billion

August 2017

0.5% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

August 2017

-1.0% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.3 billion

August 2017

1.7% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.1 billion

August 2017

-0.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$10.4 billion

August 2017

-1.2% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$17.9 billion

August 2017

0.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.7 billion

August 2017

1.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.6 billion

August 2017

-2.0% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.7 billion

August 2017

-0.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$7.1 billion

August 2017

-1.0% decrease

(monthly change)

After increasing 0.4% in July, retail sales declined 0.3% in August to $48.9 billion. Sales were down in 8 of 11 subsectors, representing 57% of retail trade.

Lower sales at food and beverage stores more than offset higher sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers. Excluding the latter two subsectors, retail sales were down 1.3%.

In volume terms, retail sales decreased 0.7%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales decrease in August
Retail sales decrease in August

Food and beverage stores post the largest decline

Following four consecutive monthly increases, sales at food and beverage stores (-2.5%) declined in August. The decrease was largely attributable to lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-2.8%). Sales at specialty food stores (+1.4%) were up for the third month in a row.

Sales were down at store types traditionally associated with housing purchases and home renovation in August. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.9%) and furniture and home furnishings stores (-2.4%) declined for the second consecutive month.

Gasoline stations (+3.1%) posted their first sales gain in four months, largely reflecting higher prices at the pump. According to the Consumer Price Index, on an unadjusted basis, the price of gasoline rose 2.9% in August.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers increased 0.7%, attributable to higher sales at new car dealers (+0.7%) and, to a lesser extent, used car dealers (+5.6%).

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+0.5%) continued their upward trend in August. Results were mixed among store types, as higher sales at clothing stores (+1.2%) more than offset the declines at shoe (-1.6%) and jewellery, luggage and leather goods (-1.8%) stores.

Retail sales down in six provinces

Retail sales were down in six provinces in August. Lower sales in Quebec and British Columbia accounted for the majority of the decline.

Quebec (-1.2%) reported the largest decrease in dollar terms, largely as a result of lower sales at new car dealers.

Following five straight monthly increases, British Columbia (-1.0%) posted lower sales in August. Sales were down across most store types.

After increasing 1.3% in July, retail sales in Saskatchewan fell 2.0%. The decline was largely attributable to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and food and beverage stores, and coincided with the application of the Provincial Sales Tax to insurance services.

Retail sales in Ontario (+0.3%) rose for the fifth time in six months.

In Nova Scotia (+1.7%), sales increased for the fourth consecutive month on higher sales at new car dealers. Excluding sales at this store type, retail sales in Nova Scotia decreased in August.

Retail sales decrease in two of three census metropolitan areas measured

Nearly 30% of total retail sales take place in Canada's three largest census metropolitan areas (CMAs)—Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver.

In August, seasonally adjusted retail sales declined in Vancouver (-1.1%) and Montréal (-1.0%), while Toronto reported a 2.9% gain.

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 $1.2 billion in August, accounting for 2.3% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 41.9%, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 8.8%.

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 on November 6. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on retail trade for September will be released on November 23.

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 Morgan Roesler (613-951-7541;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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