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Retail trade, November 2018

Released: 2019-01-23

Retail sales — Canada

$50.4 billion

November 2018

-0.9% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.7 billion

November 2018

-2.0% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

November 2018

-1.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.3 billion

November 2018

-5.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.1 billion

November 2018

-2.2% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$10.7 billion

November 2018

-1.5% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$18.9 billion

November 2018

-1.6% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.7 billion

November 2018

-1.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.6 billion

November 2018

-0.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.8 billion

November 2018

1.9% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$7.2 billion

November 2018

0.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales decreased 0.9% to $50.4 billion in November on lower sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales increased 0.2%.

Sales were down in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 75% of retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms declined 0.4%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales decrease in November
Retail sales decrease in November

Retail sales down in six subsectors

Sales at gasoline stations declined for the third time in four months, decreasing 5.0% in November. The decline was largely attributable to lower prices at the pump. In volume terms, sales were down 1.5%.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-1.8%) decreased for the first time in four months. Sales were down in three of the four store types within this subsector, with the largest decline at new car dealers (-1.9%).

Lower sales at food and beverage stores (-0.9%) were attributable to a 1.2% sales decrease at supermarkets and other grocery stores.

Sales at general merchandise stores increased for the third time in four months, rising 1.7% in November.

Retail sales at cannabis stores increased 26.2% in November to $54.4 million. Sales in October totalled $43.1 million during the two-week period following legalization. Retail figures will vary as new stores continue to come on line and the marketplace continues to evolve in the period following legalization.

Sales down in eight provinces

Following six consecutive monthly gains, sales in Ontario declined 1.6%, largely due to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto were down 1.5%.

Sales in Quebec (-1.5%) declined for the third time in four months. Sales were down at gasoline stations and, to a lesser extent, motor vehicle and parts dealers and food and beverage stores. Sales in the CMA of Montréal decreased 0.8%.

Sales declined in all four Atlantic provinces in November. The decrease was mainly due to lower sales in Nova Scotia (-5.4%), with all subsectors reporting a decline, partly due to severe weather conditions in the province. The largest decline came from motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Alberta posted a 1.9% gain following three consecutive declines. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers more than offset a decline at gasoline stations.

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 reached $2.3 billion in November, accounting for 4.2% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 20.1%, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 1.1%.

For information on related indicators, refer to Latest statistics.

  Note to readers

As of October 17, 2018, 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 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 February 4.

Next release

Data on retail trade for December 2018 will be released on February 22, 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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