Retail trade, May 2018
Retail sales increased 2.0% in May to $50.8 billion, following a 0.9% decline in April. Sales rose in 8 of 11 subsectors, representing 70% of retail trade.
Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and at gasoline stations were the main contributors to the gain in May. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.9%.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 2.0%.
Sales rebound in several subsectors
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+3.7%) made almost a full rebound following a 3.8% decline in April, which had unseasonably cool temperatures and inclement weather in many parts of the country.
Receipts at gasoline stations (+4.3%) were up for the second month in a row, partially reflecting higher prices at the pump. Sales in volume terms at gasoline stations rose 2.7%.
General merchandise stores (+3.2%), building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+5.4%) and clothing and clothing accessories stores (+2.8%) also contributed to the gain. Increases in each of these subsectors more than offset the declines that had been reported in April.
Food and beverage stores (-2.1%) posted a sales decline for the fourth time in five months. The decrease in May was primarily due to lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-3.1%).
According to the Retail Commodity Survey, 20.6% of food sales took place at general merchandise stores in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 19.1% in 2017. During the same period, 75.1% of food sales came from the food and beverage stores subsector, down from 76.5% in 2017.
Higher sales in seven provinces, led by Ontario and Quebec
Seven provinces reported higher sales in May, with Ontario and Quebec more than offsetting their declines from April.
Sales in Ontario (+2.6%) increased for the fourth time in five months. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers accounted for the majority of the increase in May. Sales in the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA) were up 1.4%.
In Quebec, sales increased 3.0%, following a 2.6% decline in April. Sales were up 1.4% in the Montréal CMA.
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 $1.4 billion, representing 2.5% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce rose 16.9%, while total unadjusted sales increased 5.5%.
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.
With this release, volume data in table 20-10-0078-01 have been revised back to January 2009 in order to incorporate updated weights based on annual revisions to the retail commodity survey.
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 30.
Data on retail trade for June will be released on August 22.
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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