Retail trade, August 2019
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Sales in the retail trade sector edged down 0.1% in August to $51.5 billion. Sales were down in six subsectors, representing 51% of retail trade.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.2%.
Sales at food and beverage stores down for the first time in three months
Following a 0.6% increase in July, sales at food and beverage stores declined 0.8% in August. Decreases were reported at three out of four store types within the subsector. A decrease in sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.8%) offset gains from July, when sales increased 0.8%. Receipts at beer, wine and liquor stores (-1.9%) were down for the first time in three months. Sales at convenience stores edged down 0.1%, while sales at specialty food stores (+2.3%) were up for the third month in a row.
Lower sales were reported at gasoline stations (-0.4%) for the second time in the last three months as a result of lower prices at the pump. In volume terms, gasoline sales were up 2.8%.
After increasing 5.0% in June, sales were down at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-0.5%) for the second month in a row. Despite this decline, sales remain above the level observed in May.
Sales at both general merchandise stores (+0.8%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+0.1%) were up in August.
In the miscellaneous store retailers subsector, sales at cannabis stores increased 18.6%, their second double-digit increase in a row and the fifth double-digit increase in the last six months. Retail figures will vary as new stores continue to come online and the marketplace continues to evolve in the period following legalization.
Sales down in four provinces and all census metropolitan areas
After increasing 1.3% in July, retail sales in Ontario dipped 0.8% in August. Declines were reported in 8 of 11 subsectors, led by lower sales at food and beverage stores. Sales in the census metropolitan area of Toronto were down 1.5%.
In Manitoba (-1.6%) retail sales were down for the first time in three months from lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Retail sales rebounded in British Columbia (+0.8%) due to higher sales at food and beverage stores and at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Retail sales also rebounded in New Brunswick (+3.8%), due to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers
The figures in the following section are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were $1.8 billion in August, accounting for 3.2% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 25.0%, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 1.5%.
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.
For 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.
Some 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 November 4.
Data on retail trade for September will be released on November 22.
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; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).