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Retail Services Price Index, fourth quarter 2018

Released: 2019-04-17

The Retail Services Price Index (RSPI) edged down 0.1% in the fourth quarter. The decrease was mainly attributable to lower margins at general merchandise stores.

Margins were down in 5 of the 10 major retail subsectors, representing 66% of the retail sector surveyed.

Retailers at general merchandise stores (-3.1%) reported lower margins on account of promotions and higher vendor prices. The decline was concentrated at all other general merchandise stores (-7.0%).

Food and beverages stores (-0.5%), more specifically grocery stores (-1.6%), also reported lower margins, as a result of higher vendor prices. Increased transportation and labour costs partly contributed to reduced margins in this subsector.

The decrease of the RSPI was moderated mainly by margin gains at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+2.3%).

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail Services Price Index
Retail Services Price Index

Year-over-year change

The RSPI increased 1.2% in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter in 2017. Of the 10 major retail subsectors surveyed, 6 were up and 4 were down.

Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+11.2%) contributed the most to the increase of the RSPI, marking the 18th consecutive year-over-year increase.

Retailers at electronics and appliance stores (+13.2%) and furniture and home furnishing stores (+4.8%) also registered year-over-year margin gains.

The year-over-year increase in the RSPI was moderated primarily by lower margins at general merchandise stores (-4.7%)

  Note to readers

The Retail Services Price Index (RSPI) represents the change in the price of the retail service. The price of the retail service is defined as the margin price, which is the difference between the average purchase price and the average selling price of the retail product being priced. The RSPI is not a retail selling price index.

With each release, data for the previous quarter may have been revised. The series are also subject to an annual revision with the release of second quarter data of the following reference year. The indexes are not seasonally adjusted. Data are available at the Canada level only.

Quality indicators

Data-quality indicators are based on measures of survey precision (standard errors), estimates of market coverage (based on the RSPI sample), and the number of reported price quotes.

Index series without data-quality indicators are considered to be statistically reliable.

Users are encouraged to take into account quality indicators when using RSPI data.

Infographic: The evolution of margins in the retail trade sector (2008–2017)

The infographic, "Retail Services Price Index (RSPI) 2008 to 2017," which is part of Statistics Canada — Infographics (Catalogue number11-627-M), is now available. It demonstrates how margins in the Canadian retail trade sector have evolved from the first quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2017.

A Historical Timeline of Canadian Producer Price Statistics

The publication "A Historical Timeline of Canadian Producer Price Statistics," which is part of the Prices Analytical Series (Catalogue number62F0014M), was created to showcase the key milestones in the history of Canadian producer price statistics. This historical timeline contains answers to questions such as: Who collected Canada's first statistics? What do Canadian producer price indexes measure?

Infographic: Producer Price Indexes at a Glance

The infographic "Producer Price Indexes at a Glance," which is part of Statistics Canada — Infographics (Catalogue number11-627-M), demonstrates how producer price indexes for goods and services are calculated and why they are important for the Canadian economy.

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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