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Retail trade, October 2018

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Released: 2018-12-21

Retail sales — Canada

$51.0 billion

October 2018

0.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.8 billion

October 2018

0.4% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

October 2018

-0.7% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.4 billion

October 2018

1.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.1 billion

October 2018

-0.9% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$11.0 billion

October 2018

0.8% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$19.3 billion

October 2018

1.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.7 billion

October 2018

-1.2% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.6 billion

October 2018

-1.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.7 billion

October 2018

-1.8% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$7.2 billion

October 2018

0.4% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales increased 0.3% to $51.0 billion in October. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations were the main contributors to the gain. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales declined 0.4%.

Sales were up in 5 of 11 subsectors, representing 69% of retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms were unchanged in October.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales increase in October
Retail sales increase in October

Higher sales in five subsectors; cannabis stores now part of retail figures

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+1.3%) increased for the third month in a row. All store types within this subsector posted gains, led by higher sales at new car dealers (+1.1%) and, to a lesser extent, used car dealers (+4.1%).

Following declines in August and September, higher receipts were recorded at gasoline stations (+1.9%) in October. In volume terms, sales increased 1.9%.

Miscellaneous store retailers (+4.5%) reported higher sales in October, due in large part to the introduction of a new miscellaneous retail store type, cannabis stores. Excluding cannabis stores, receipts at miscellaneous store retailers increased 1.1%.

Sales at cannabis stores totalled $43.0 million during the two week period following legalization. The availability of cannabis across the country was affected by differences in retail structures in each province and territory. Retail figures will vary as new stores continue to come on line and the marketplace continues to evolve.

In the future, retail estimates for cannabis stores will be reflective of a complete reference month.

At general merchandise stores (-1.8%), sales declined for the first time in three months.

Sales increase in five provinces

Retail sales continued their upward trend in Ontario (+1.1%), rising for the sixth consecutive month in October. The increase was largely attributable to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales in the census metropolitan area of Toronto increased 1.8%.

Sales in Quebec rose 0.8% in October from stronger sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Following two months of relatively flat sales, British Columbia recorded a 0.4% gain in October, on the strength of higher sales in the census metropolitan area of Vancouver (+1.1%). The gain was mainly attributable to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

In Alberta, retail sales were down 1.8%, marking a third consecutive decline. October's decrease was mainly due to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and general merchandise stores.

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 were $1.6 billion in October, accounting for 3.0% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 19.3%, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 2.6%.

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

As of October 17, the date of legalization, the monthly retail trade survey now collects and disseminates sales of licensed cannabis stores. This includes both in store and Internet based sales.

Seasonally adjusted estimates for cannabis store retailers are presented in unadjusted form as there is no seasonal pattern established by official statistics yet. Establishing such a pattern requires several months of observed data. In the interim, the "seasonally adjusted" estimates for cannabis store retailers will be identical to the unadjusted figures.

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

Real-time tables 20-10-0054-01 and 20-10-0079-01 will be updated on January 7, 2019.

Next release

Data on retail trade for November 2018 will be released on January 23, 2019.

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 Sandra Andric (613-951-0027;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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