Retail trade, March 2019
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Retail sales increased for the second consecutive month, rising 1.1% to $51.3 billion in March. Sales were higher in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 39% of retail trade.
Higher sales at gasoline stations and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were the main contributors to the increase.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms were up 0.3%.
For the first quarter, retail sales edged up 0.1% following a 0.5% decrease in the fourth quarter. In volume terms, retail sales edged down 0.1% in the first quarter.
Retail sales up in seven subsectors
Sales at gasoline stations increased for the second consecutive month, up 6.0% in March due in large part to higher prices at the pump. In volume terms, sales at gasoline stations were relatively unchanged from February.
Following a decline in February, sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers increased 4.3% in March. This was the third increase in four months.
Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores rose 3.4% in March. While all store types within this subsector reported increases, the gain was led largely by higher sales at clothing stores.
Following a 1.7% increase in February, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers decreased 0.7% in March. Lower sales at new car dealers (-2.2%) more than offset the gains at all other store types within this subsector, as other motor vehicle dealers (+12.2%), used car dealers (+5.0%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+1.0%) were all up in March. Despite the overall decline in the subsector, unadjusted sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were above the level observed in March 2018.
Sales increase in nine provinces
Total retail sales increased for the second consecutive month in Alberta (+2.4%) on the strength of higher sales in all subsectors. The majority of the provincial gain stemmed from higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations.
In Ontario, retail sales increased 0.8% on the strength of higher sales at gasoline stations. Sales in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto increased 2.5%.
Retail sales in Quebec (+0.7%) increased for the third consecutive month. Sales in the CMA of Montréal were up 0.4%, the second monthly increase in a row.
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 $1.6 billion in March, accounting for 3.1% of total retail trade, compared with 2.0% of total retail trade in March 2016—the year when official monthly statistics for retail e-commerce were first published. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 20.0%, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 1.9%.
Note to readers
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.
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.
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 June 3.
Data on retail trade for April will be released on June 21.
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 Jason Aston (613-951-0746; email@example.com), Retail and Service Industries Division.