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

Annual retail trade, 2016

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: 2018-03-21

Store and non-store retailers had operating revenue of $595.1 billion in 2016, up 3.8% from 2015. The growth was driven by higher sales in three subsectors (motor vehicle and parts dealers, food and beverage stores, and health and personal care stores), which together contributed more than two-thirds to the increase.

Canada's largest subsector, motor vehicle and parts dealers, again led the gain in operating revenue, up 5.7% to $148.2 billion in 2016. As in 2015, new car dealers represented the bulk of the growth, as sales of trucks continued to expand.

Slowing the overall growth in total operating revenue was gasoline stations, which declined 2.1% to $56.5 billion in 2016. This decline was due in part to lower prices at the pump.

Also affected by lower fuel prices, non-store retailers realized a decline in operating revenues, with totals falling to $21.6 billion. This 1.6% decrease was mainly the result of lower operating revenues from fuel dealers, which comprise establishments primarily engaged in retailing heating oil, liquefied petroleum gas and other fuels via direct selling.

The cost of goods sold by retailers, representing 72.9% of operating revenue, increased 3.6% in 2016. Total operating expenses, which include labour remuneration, grew 4.0% to $131.5 billion.

The gross margin of retailers edged up, from 27.0% in 2015 to 27.1% in 2016. Gross margins were up in 6 of the 12 retail subsectors in 2016, with sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores posting the greatest gains, as their margins rose from 37.7% in 2015 to 39.2% in 2016. Operating profit margins of retailers edged up from 4.9% in 2015 to 5.0% in 2016.

Retailers turned over their inventory (cost of goods sold divided by the average inventory value) 5.7 times in 2016, down from 5.9 times in 2015.

Store retailers (excluding non-store retailers) are divided into chain stores and non-chain stores. Chain stores are defined as operating four or more locations within the same industry group and under the same legal ownership.

In 2016, chain stores accounted for over half of total operating revenue in retail trade in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, well above the national average of 45.4%.

In-store sales accounted for 93.4% of the revenue of retailers in 2016, up slightly from 93.2% in 2015. The remaining 6.6% came from catalogue, mail-order, telephone, e-commerce, and other methods such as trade shows and in-home sales.

  Note to readers

Data for 2014 and 2015 have been revised.

Trucks include minivans, sport-utility vehicles, light and heavy trucks, vans and buses.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: