Retail trade, April 2018
Following three consecutive monthly increases, retail sales in April declined 1.2% to $49.5 billion. The decrease was primarily due to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Inclement weather in many parts of Canada may have contributed to the overall decline in April. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales were down 0.1% in April.
Sales were down in 8 of 11 subsectors, representing 65% of retail trade.
Removing the effect of price changes, retail sales in volume terms declined 1.4%.
Sales down at motor vehicle and parts dealers
Motor vehicle and parts dealers posted a 4.3% decline in April. Sales at new car dealers fell 5.1%, after increasing 3.7% in March and 2.2% in February. Used car dealers reported a 4.1% decrease in sales in April. Ontario, which accounted for the majority of the decline in dollar terms at motor vehicle and parts dealers, experienced cooler than usual temperatures throughout the month, as well as freezing rain in mid-April.
Sales were down at general merchandise stores (-2.2%) for the first time in four months.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-3.3%) reported a decrease in sales for the fifth time in six months.
Sales at food and beverage stores rose 2.3% following three consecutive monthly declines. Sales were higher at all store types in this subsector, with supermarkets and other grocery stores (+2.9%) leading the increase in both dollar and percentage terms.
Receipts at gasoline stations increased 1.4%, reflecting higher prices at the pump. In volume terms, receipts at gasoline stations were down 0.1%.
Lower sales in Ontario and Quebec drive the decline
Six provinces reported lower sales in April, with the overall decline concentrated in Ontario and Quebec.
In Ontario, sales fell 2.3% following three consecutive monthly increases. Lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers accounted for the bulk of the decrease. Sales in the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA) were down 2.9%.
Sales in Quebec decreased 2.7%. Sales in the Montréal CMA fell 2.6%.
Sales increased in British Columbia (+1.1%) for the third consecutive month. Unlike Ontario and Quebec, British Columbia reported higher sales at new car dealers. Retail sales in the Vancouver CMA rose 0.2%.
Sales were up in Saskatchewan (+2.2%) 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 2.7% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce rose 8.8% while total unadjusted retail sales increased 0.8%.
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 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 tables 20-10-0054-01 and 20-10-0079-01 will be updated on July 9.
Data on retail trade for May will be released on July 20.
For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).
For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Annie Xie (613-951-0385; email@example.com), Retail and Service Industries Division.
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