Retail trade, January 2019
Retail sales decreased for the third consecutive month, declining 0.3% to $50.1 billion in January. Sales were down in 4 of 11 subsectors, representing 52% of retail trade.
Lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-1.5%) contributed to the majority of the decline. Excluding sales in this subsector, retail sales increased 0.1%.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms were essentially unchanged in January.
Retail sales decrease in four subsectors
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers declined 1.5% in January following a 1.0% increase in December. The decline was largely the result of lower sales at new car dealers (-2.4%) and, to a lesser extent, used car dealers (-2.7%).
Lower sales were reported at general merchandise stores (-2.4%) for the second consecutive month.
Receipts at gasoline stations (-0.4%) declined for the third month in a row. The decline in January stemmed from lower prices at the pump, as sales in volume terms increased 1.9%.
Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+1.4%) increased for the second month in a row, following five consecutive monthly declines from July to November.
At health and personal care stores (+1.1%), sales rose for the first time in five months.
Sales were up at food and beverage stores (+0.4%), with gains from supermarkets and other grocery stores (+0.8%) and beer, wine and liquor stores (+1.4%).
Sales decline in seven provinces
Sales in Ontario (-1.0%) decreased for the third month in a row, with a majority of subsectors declining in January. The largest decrease in dollar terms came from lower sales at gasoline stations. Sales in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto declined 1.5%.
Sales were down in all three Prairie provinces in January, with the majority of the decline coming from lower sales in Alberta (-1.0%). The decrease was primarily the result of lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Following a 2.5% gain in December, sales in Manitoba decreased 2.0% in January. Motor vehicle and parts dealers contributed to the majority of the decline.
In Saskatchewan (-0.7%), sales were down for the fourth consecutive month as lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers more than offset gains at food and beverage stores.
Sales in British Columbia increased 1.5% on the strength of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales in the CMA of Vancouver rose 1.3%.
E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers
The figures in the sections below are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were $1.5 billion in January, accounting for 3.4% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce rose12.0%, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 1.7%.
Note to readers
In addition to publishing the census metropolitan areas of Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver, unadjusted data are now available for Quebec, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and the census sub-divisions of Gatineau and Ottawa.
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.
For more information regarding cannabis statistics, consult the Cannabis Stats Hub.
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 20-10-0054-01 and 20-10-0079-01 will be updated on April 1.
Data on retail trade for February will be released on April 18.
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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