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Retail trade, January 2020

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Released: 2020-03-20

Retail sales — Canada

$52.0 billion

January 2020

0.4% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$0.7 billion

January 2020

-1.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$0.2 billion

January 2020

2.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1.4 billion

January 2020

2.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1.2 billion

January 2020

3.3% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$11.2 billion

January 2020

1.7% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$19.6 billion

January 2020

-0.8% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1.8 billion

January 2020

0.9% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1.6 billion

January 2020

0.7% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$6.9 billion

January 2020

1.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$7.2 billion

January 2020

0.0% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales rose for the third consecutive month, up 0.4% to $52.0 billion in January. While the impacts of the coronavirus on the retail trade sector will be more noticeable in subsequent months, respondent comments for February note that business activities have been impacted.

The increase was primarily attributable to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, both of which were down in December. The other nine subsectors, which comprise the core retail sector, collectively declined 0.3%.

Sales were up in 4 of the 11 subsectors, representing 48% of retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.3%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales increase in January
Retail sales increase in January

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations

The largest contributor to the monthly gain came from the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector (+1.8%). Higher sales were reported in all four store types within the subsector. Sales at new car dealers rose 1.5% in January to $11.3 billion, the second-highest level of sales on record.

Sales at gasoline stations were up 1.5%. In volume terms, sales at gasolines stations rose 1.2%.

After outpacing total retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2019 and growing in three of the last four months, core retail sales fell 0.3% in January.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers decreased 1.6% in January, following a 4.1% increase in December.

Sales up in eight provinces

After declining 0.8% in December, retail sales in Quebec rose 1.7% to $11.2 billion in January, the highest level on record. Similar to the national trend, motor vehicle and parts dealers were the main contributor to the growth in January. In the census metropolitan area of Montréal, sales increased 0.3%.

Retail sales in Alberta (+1.6%) increased for the second consecutive month, the largest monthly gain since March 2019. Growth in January was driven by motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Ontario (-0.8%) saw its largest monthly decline in retail sales since October 2019. The decrease in January was led by new car dealers.

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 $1.7 billion in January, accounting for 3.7% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 9.8%, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 3.9%.

  Note to readers

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted and expressed in current dollars, unless otherwise noted.

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.

Real-time tables

Real-time tables 20-10-0054-01 and 20-10-0079-01 will be updated soon.

Next release

Data on retail trade for February will be released on April 21.

Contact information

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; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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