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Retail trade, March 2018

Released: 2018-05-18

Retail sales — Canada

$50.2 billion

March 2018

0.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.8 billion

March 2018

0.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

March 2018

-0.5% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.3 billion

March 2018

-2.6% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.1 billion

March 2018

2.5% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$10.9 billion

March 2018

1.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$18.6 billion

March 2018

0.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.7 billion

March 2018

3.2% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.6 billion

March 2018

-1.8% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.8 billion

March 2018

0.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$7.2 billion

March 2018

0.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales increased for the third consecutive month in March, rising 0.6% to $50.2 billion. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers more than offset lower sales at food and beverage stores and gasoline stations.

Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 53% of retail trade. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales were down 0.2% in March.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.8%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales increase in March
Retail sales increase in March

Retail sales increase on the strength of higher sales at new car dealers

Following a 2.0% increase in sales in February, motor vehicle and parts dealers (+3.0%) were again the largest contributor in dollar terms to the increase in March. New car dealers (+3.3%) accounted for the majority of the gain, although all store types in this subsector reported increases.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores (+2.5%) posted higher sales in March, following a decrease in February. For the first time since November 2017, sales increased at all store types in this subsector.

Receipts at general merchandise stores (+1.0%) rose for the fifth time in six months.

Sales at food and beverage stores (-1.2%) declined for the third consecutive month, largely due to lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores.

Gasoline stations (-1.9%) posted a decline for the second month in a row. Sales at gasoline stations in volume terms decreased 2.5% amidst higher gasoline prices.

Sales up in seven provinces

Higher sales were reported in seven provinces, accounting for 93% of retail trade. Quebec (+1.3%) and Ontario (+0.6%) were the main contributors to the increase in dollar terms. The census metropolitan areas (CMAs) of Toronto (+1.0%) and Montréal (+2.1%) both posted gains.

After three consecutive monthly declines, sales in Manitoba rose 3.2% in March, largely on the strength of higher sales at new car dealers.

Sales in British Columbia increased 0.6%. In the Vancouver CMA (+2.4%), retail sales grew for the first time since October 2017.

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 totalled $1.3 billion, representing 2.6% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 11.1%, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 3.4%.

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

Since the November 2017 release of September data, Laspeyres volume estimates by industry for the Monthly Retail Trade Survey are available under CANSIM table 080-0027. CANSIM table 080-0024 has been discontinued. Volume estimates and indices in CANSIM table 080-0027 have been revised back to 2012, reflecting a change in the classification of the retail commodity survey to the North American Product Classification System.

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 terms 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 080-8027 will be updated on May 28. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on retail trade for April will be released on June 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 Annie Xie (613-951-0385;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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