Retail trade, September 2019
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Retail sales decreased for the first time in three months, edging down 0.1% to $51.6 billion in September. The decline came from lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales rose 0.7%.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.1%.
Rounding out the third quarter, retail sales were up 0.5%, following a 1.1% increase in the second quarter. In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.5% in the third quarter.
Lower sales at new car dealers and gasoline stations
The largest contribution to the monthly decline came from the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector (-1.0%), which declined for the first time in three months due to lower sales at new car dealers (-1.9%). Sales were up at used car dealers (+3.6%), following a 3.0% decline in August.
Sales at gasoline stations (-2.3%) were down for the second month in a row, reflecting in part lower prices at the pump. In volume terms, sales at gasoline stations were down 1.1%.
Receipts at food and beverage stores rose 1.2% in September on higher sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (+1.1%) and beer, wine and liquor stores (+3.2%).
Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers rose 3.3%. Sales were up at home centres which typically sell building materials, hardware, paint, wallpaper and related supplies.
Sales down in seven provinces
Retail sales were down in Alberta (-1.6%) and New Brunswick (-3.7%) on lower sales at new car dealers.
In Quebec, retail sales increased 0.7% on the strength of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Montréal, sales were up 0.6%.
Retail sales in Ontario (+0.3%) continued their upward trend, increasing for the seventh time in eight months. In the CMA of Toronto, retail sales were up 1.5%.
E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers
The figures in this section are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were $1.9 billion in September, accounting for 3.6% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 34.6%, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 0.7%.
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 December 2.
Data on retail trade for October will be released on December 20.
The infographic, "Canadian e-commerce: Measuring domestic vs. cross-border e-commerce," is now available as part of the series Statistics Canada – Infographics (11-627-M).
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).