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Retail trade, May 2019

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Released: 2019-07-19

Retail sales — Canada

$51.5 billion

May 2019

-0.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.7 billion

May 2019

-1.5% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

May 2019

-3.9% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.3 billion

May 2019

-2.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.1 billion

May 2019

-1.7% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$11.0 billion

May 2019

0.9% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$19.4 billion

May 2019

0.5% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.8 billion

May 2019

-1.6% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.7 billion

May 2019

-0.7% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.8 billion

May 2019

-1.7% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$7.2 billion

May 2019

-0.2% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales declined for the first time in four months, edging down 0.1% to $51.5 billion in May. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales decreased 1.0%.

Sales were down in 4 of 11 subsectors, representing 39% of retail trade. Lower sales at food and beverage stores were the main contributors to the decline.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.5%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales edge down in May
Retail sales edge down in May

Retail sales down in four subsectors

Receipts at food and beverage stores decreased 2.0% in May after increasing for three consecutive months. All store types within this subsector experienced lower sales this month, with the largest declines coming from supermarkets and other grocery stores (-2.0%) and beer, wine and liquor stores (-2.7%).

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores (-2.7%) and general merchandise stores (-1.1%) were down for the second month in a row.

For the fourth consecutive month, sales at gasoline stations (+3.5%) increased.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers edged up 0.5% in May, as lower sales at new car dealers (-0.1%) were offset by an increase in sales at all other store types in this subsector.

Sales at cannabis stores (+14.8%) rose in May, surpassing $85 million. This increase marked the third consecutive month of double-digit growth. Gains were widespread across all provinces, with Quebec and Ontario accounting for the majority of the increase.

Sales decrease in eight provinces

For the first time in three months, sales in Alberta (-1.7%) were down, due to lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

In Nova Scotia (-2.3%) and Manitoba (-1.6%), retail sales decreased for the second time in the past three months. Declines were reported at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Sales increased for the fourth consecutive month in Ontario (+0.5%), primarily as a result of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. In the CMA of Toronto, retail sales rose 0.3%.

Following a decrease in April, sales in Quebec were up 0.9% in May, largely on higher sales in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Montréal (+1.8%).

E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers

The figures in the following sections are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates.

On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were $1.8 billion in May, accounting for 3.0% of total retail trade, compared with 1.9% of total retail trade in May 2016—the year when official monthly statistics for retail e-commerce were first published. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 21.8%, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 1.6%.

  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.

With this release, volume data in table 20-10-0078-01 have been revised back to January 2015 in order to incorporate updated weights based on annual revisions to the retail commodity survey.

As of October 17, 2018, the date of legalization, the Monthly Retail Trade Survey now collects and disseminates data on the 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

Real-time tables 20-10-0054-01 and 20-10-0079-01 will be updated on July 29.

Next release

Data on retail trade for June will be released on August 23.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Elizabeth Chretien (613-951-0027;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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