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Quarterly Retail Commodity Survey, third quarter 2018

Released: 2019-01-14

Retail sales in Canada reached $157.5 billion in the third quarter, up 2.8% from the same quarter of 2017. Higher sales were reported in 12 of the 16 major commodity groupings.

The largest increase in dollar terms was for automotive and household fuels, with year-over-year growth of 13.1%. Higher sales of automotive fuels (+13.1%) accounted for the majority of the increase, coinciding with higher prices at the pump.

Sales of home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances and electronics were up 3.9%, led by home appliances (+8.5%), home electronics (+3.9%) and housewares (+3.5%). Lower sales of home furnishings (-2.0%) moderated the gains.

Sales of food were up 1.5% compared with the third quarter of 2017. The majority of the gain came from higher sales of fresh food (+1.3%) and packaged food dry goods (+1.6%). Sales of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages increased 4.0% compared with the third quarter of 2017, largely due to higher sales of alcoholic beverages (+4.4%).

The largest decrease in dollar terms was from motor vehicles, down 0.2%. This was the first year-over-year decline of motor vehicle sales since the first quarter of 2013. Lower sales of new motor vehicles (-1.9%) were largely attributable to declining sales of new passenger automobiles (-12.6%). Higher sales of used motor vehicles (+3.0%) moderated the decrease of new motor vehicles.

  Note to readers

The Quarterly Retail Commodity Survey collects national level retail sales by commodity, from the same businesses as in the Monthly Retail Trade Survey. Quarterly data have not been adjusted for seasonality. All percentage changes are year over year.

Beginning with the first quarter of 2017, published data are based on an updated sample. The new level of estimates has led to a time series revision from the first quarter of 2012 to the last quarter of 2017. These revisions also incorporate 2017 annual revisions, as well as some other historical revisions.

The quality rating of the series should be considered when making year-over-year comparisons of sales levels. Some of the year-over-year changes may reflect differences in the businesses selected in the old and new samples and/or the move to the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS 2012) in the third quarter of 2016. Estimates for major product groups are of higher quality than those for more specific products.

CANSIM table 080-0035 has been replaced by table 11-10-0236-01.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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