Retail trade, September 2018
Retail sales edged up 0.2% to $50.9 billion in September following a relatively flat August. The gain was led by food and beverage stores and, to a lesser extent, general merchandise stores and motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales were down at gasoline stations and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. Excluding gasoline stations, retail sales rose 0.4%.
Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 75% of retail trade.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.5%.
Retail sales were up 0.9% in the third quarter following a 1.1% gain in the second quarter. In volume terms, retail sales increased 0.4% in the third quarter.
Higher sales at food and beverage stores
Sales at food and beverage stores (+0.9%) rose for the third time in four months. Higher sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (+1.7%) more than offset a decline at beer, wine, and liquor stores (-1.7%), which posted their first decline after six consecutive monthly increases.
Sales increased at general merchandise stores (+1.2%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+0.5%) in September. Higher sales were reported at both new (+0.6%) and used (+2.9%) car dealers.
Sales at gasoline stations (-1.1%) were down for the third time in four months, partly reflecting lower prices. After removing the effects of price changes, sales at gasoline stations declined 0.3%.
Store types traditionally associated with housing purchases and home renovation declined in September. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.9%) and furniture and home furnishings stores (-0.7%) continued their downward trend in September, declining for the third time in four months.
Prairie provinces lead retail sales increase in September
Sales were up in all three Prairie provinces. Retail sales in Alberta increased 0.5% on the strength of higher sales at food and beverage stores.
Following a 3.5% decline in August, retail sales in Saskatchewan rose 1.7%, marking their third gain in four months. Gains were widespread among most store types.
Retail sales in Manitoba continued their upward trend, rising 1.5%. The increase in September was led by higher sales at gasoline stations.
Sales in Ontario (+0.1%) increased for the fifth consecutive month in September, due to stronger sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto (+0.7%) also increased for the fifth month in a row.
Sales were down in Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.5%) and Nova Scotia (-0.6%) for the first time in three months, mainly due to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers
The figures in this section are based on unadjusted estimates (not seasonally adjusted).
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales totalled $1.4 billion, representing 2.8% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce rose 16.9%, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 1.8%.
British Columbia wildfires and Ottawa–Gatineau tornadoes
For the reference month of September 2018, the Monthly Retail Trade Survey added nine supplementary questions to assess the impact on retail trade of the British Columbia wildfires from July to September, as well as the Ottawa–Gatineau tornadoes in September.
For the period of July to September, 4,682 retailers across Canada were asked to evaluate the impact of the wildfires on their business operations. About 4% of these retailers indicated that their business activities had been affected by the wildfires at some point from July to September.
Responses that indicated an impact caused by the wildfires were recorded in each of the 11 subsectors of the Monthly Retail Trade Survey and touched all provinces, though mainly in British Columbia. A majority of impacted businesses reported lower sales than a typical July to September period, largely due to smoke, decreased tourism or having to shut down as a result of the fires.
Businesses in the Ottawa–Gatineau CMA were asked to evaluate the impact of the September tornadoes on their operations. Roughly 30% of the 259 respondents reported that their business activities had been affected by the tornadoes and subsequent power outages. The most common impact was a shut down in operations ranging from one to three days.
Overall, while some businesses faced hardship from these two extreme events, the impact of the wildfires and the tornadoes on total retail sales in Canada was likely small.
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
During the monthly collection process, there is now an option to enable a module with a limited number of questions that can be used to assess the impact of an ad hoc event on the data series. The module is added after the core questions of the survey have been asked and can be directed to the whole sample or to a specific domain (province/territory and subsector/industry).
For the reference month of September 2018, the Monthly Retail Trade Survey added nine supplementary questions to assess the impact of the British Columbia wildfires and evacuations from July to September to all but Ottawa–Gatineau respondents. Respondents in the Ottawa–Gatineau CMA were asked the same nine supplementary questions about the impact of the tornadoes in September.
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 December 3.
Data on retail trade for October will be released on December 21.
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 Sandra Andric (613-951-0027; email@example.com), Retail and Service Industries Division.
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