Retail trade, April 2019
Retail sales rose for the third consecutive month, edging up 0.1% to $51.5 billion in April. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales were down 0.1%.
Sales were up in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 74% of retail trade. Higher sales at gasoline stations and food and beverage stores were the main contributors to the gain.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.2%.
Retail sales up in seven subsectors
Higher sales at gasoline stations (+1.2%) were the main contributor to the increase in April—the third consecutive monthly increase. In volume terms, sales decreased 0.7%, reflecting higher prices at the pump.
Receipts at food and beverage stores (+0.4%) also increased for the third consecutive month. Higher sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (+2.4%) and specialty food stores (+1.0%) more than offset declines at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.1%) and convenience stores (-0.6%).
Sales at miscellaneous store retailers (+2.8%), which include pet stores, used merchandise stores and cannabis stores, were up for the second month in a row.
Following relatively flat sales in March, motor vehicle and parts dealers edged up 0.1% primarily on the strength of sales at new car dealers (+1.2%), which offset lower sales at all other store types within this subsector.
Following increases in March, sales at both building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-2.6%) and clothing and clothing accessories stores (-1.5%) decreased in April. Despite these declines, sales in both subsectors remained above February levels.
Sales increase in four provinces
Sales in both Ontario (+0.9%) and Alberta (+1.6%) continued their upward trend, rising for the third consecutive month. The gains in April for both provinces came from higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Retail sales in Quebec (-1.3%) were down for the first time in 2019, due in large part to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Montréal declined 1.1% in April.
In British Columbia, sales decreased 0.5%, with sales in the CMA of Vancouver down 1.7%. Excluding sales in Vancouver, retail sales in British Columbia increased.
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 reached $1.6 billion in April, accounting for 3.0% of total retail trade, compared with 2.0% of total retail trade in April 2016—the year when official monthly statistics for retail e-commerce were first published. Compared with April 2018, retail e-commerce increased 14.9% in April 2019, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 5.0%.
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 July 8.
Data on retail trade for May will be released on July 19.
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.
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