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Retail trade, October 2020

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Released: 2020-12-18

Retail sales — Canada

$54.6 billion

October 2020

0.4% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.L.

$786.6 millions

October 2020

-0.8% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — P.E.I.

$229.0 millions

October 2020

0.6% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.S.

$1,441.0 millions

October 2020

1.5% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.B.

$1,174.5 millions

October 2020

-4.3% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Que.

$11,923.1 millions

October 2020

0.2% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Ont.

$20,037.2 millions

October 2020

-0.4% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Man.

$1,947.4 millions

October 2020

1.7% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Sask.

$1,703.4 millions

October 2020

1.2% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Alta.

$7,106.6 millions

October 2020

1.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — B.C.

$8,044.9 millions

October 2020

2.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Y.T.

$77.8 millions

October 2020

3.1% increase

(monthly change)

Retail sales — N.W.T.

$73.1 millions

October 2020

-1.1% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales — Nvt.

$45.8 millions

October 2020

-2.6% decrease

(monthly change)

Retail sales edged up 0.4% to $54.6 billion in October, marking the sixth consecutive monthly increase since the record decline in April. The sales growth was led by motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Core retail sales—which excludes gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—edged up 0.3%, on higher sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (+11.8%), furniture and home furnishings stores (+6.6%), as well as building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+2.9%).

Retail sales increased in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 50.9% of retail trade. In volume terms, sales edged up 0.2% in October.

Given the rapidly evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales were relatively unchanged in November. Owing to its preliminary nature, this figure will be revised.

This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 55% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 87.9%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales edge up in October
Retail sales edge up in October

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers

Sales increased at all four store types within motor vehicle and parts dealers (+1.5%), led by new car dealers (+0.8%).

Year over year, sales of new passenger cars declined 23.2%, while new trucks, an aggregate group which includes light trucks, heavy trucks and buses, increased 4.1% from October 2019. After a 2.5% year-over-year increase in September, the value of New Motor Vehicles declined 0.7% in October, compared with the same month last year.

Sales at gasoline stations (-2.7%) declined for the first time in six months. In volume terms, sales were down 2.8%.

Core retail sales continue to rise

Core retail sales edged up 0.3% in October following a 2.1% increase in September.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (+11.8%) reported higher sales following three consecutive months of declines.

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores rose for the second consecutive month, up 6.6% in October.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+2.9%) rose for the third consecutive month.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Sales up in 6 of 11 subsectors
Sales up in 6 of 11 subsectors

Sales up in seven provinces

In British Columbia, sales rose 2.1%, with health and personal care stores, as well as building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers both contributing the most to the increase. In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Vancouver, sales rose 2.8%.

Sales in Alberta rose 1.1% on higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Sales in Ontario (-0.4%) fell for the first time since April, coinciding with a record number of COVID-19 cases and stricter public health measures within the province. The decrease was led by clothing and clothing accessories stores. In the CMA of Toronto, sales were down 1.2%.

New Brunswick (-4.3%) also reported a decline, on lower sales at general merchandise stores.

Retail e-commerce sales in Canada

On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales reached $3.1 billion in October, accounting for 5.2% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 0.3 percentage points from September, but was up 1.8 percentage points year over year.

Retail e-commerce sales were up by two-thirds (+67.7%) year over year in October, while total unadjusted retail sales increased 9.1%.

When adjusted for basic seasonal effects, retail e-commerce declined 5.0%.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Retail e-commerce decreases in October
Retail e-commerce decreases in October

  Note to readers

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

Seasonally adjusted data are data that have been modified to eliminate the effect of seasonal and calendar influences to allow for more meaningful comparisons of economic conditions from period to period. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

The percentage change for the advanced estimate for retail sales is calculated using seasonally adjusted data and is expressed in current dollars.

This early indicator is a special product being provided in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to offer Canadians timely information on the retail sector. The data sources and methodology used are the exact same as those outlined in the Monthly Retail Trade Survey information page.

Trend-cycle estimates are included in selected charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. These data represent a smoothed version of the seasonally adjusted time series and provide information on longer-term movements including changes in direction underlying the series. For information on trend-cycle data, see Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

Both seasonally adjusted data and trend-cycle estimates are subject to revision as additional observations become available. These revisions could be large and could even lead to a reversal of movement, especially for reference months near the end of the series or during periods of economic disruptions.

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.

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 November 2020 will be released on January 22, 2021.

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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