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Quarterly Retail Commodity Survey, fourth quarter 2018

Released: 2019-04-15

Retail sales in Canada increased 0.7% year over year to $157.1 billion in the fourth quarter.

Sales of cannabis products totalled $152.2 million, with dried cannabis flowering tops accounting for $136.2 million and cannabis oils $15.9 million. Cannabis sales figures represent the two weeks of October following legalization and all of November and December 2018.

The largest year-over-year increase in dollar terms came from food (+2.7%). The majority of this gain was attributable to higher sales of fresh food (+3.2%), packaged food dry goods (+1.8%) and frozen food (+2.3%). Sales of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages rose 2.5% compared with the fourth quarter of 2017.

Sales of motor vehicles parts, accessories and supplies rose 4.7% in the fourth quarter, mainly due to new motor vehicle tires (+8.7%). Meanwhile, sales of motor vehicles rose 0.4% on higher sales of used motor vehicles (+4.4%), with used minivans, sport utility vehicles, and light trucks accounting for most of the gain. Receipts for new motor vehicles declined 1.5%, mainly driven by lower sales of new passenger automobiles (-13.4%).

Sales of automotive fuels and household fuels declined 4.1% year over year. Declines were largely attributable to lower receipts of automotive fuels (-4.3%).

Sales of home health products were down 1.2%. Lower sales of pharmaceuticals (-2.0%) was the main contributor to the decline.

  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 fourth quarter of 2018, published data are based on the North American Product Classification System Canada 2017 Version 2.0, which has introduced new commodities and updated commodity definitions.

Table 11-10-0236-01 has been replaced by table 20-10-0016-01.

Contact information

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