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Retail Services Price Index, fourth quarter 2020

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Released: 2021-04-06

The Retail Services Price Index (RSPI) rose 1.5% in the fourth quarter, following a 0.6% increase in the previous quarter. Margins were up in 6 of the 10 major retail subsectors surveyed.

For a detailed and interactive view of the data, please consult Statistics Canada's Wholesale and Retail Services Price Indexes: Interactive Tool. This tool allows users to explore current and historical margin trends for various types of wholesaling and retailing services.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail Services Price Index
Retail Services Price Index

Quarter-over-quarter highlights

Margins at health and personal care stores increased for the second consecutive quarter, up 4.5% in the fourth quarter because of higher retail prices.

Margins at general merchandise stores rose 4.8%, reversing the margin losses recorded in the previous quarter.

The margins of gasoline stations increased by 4.1%, as the decline in vendor prices outpaced that of retail prices.

The growth of the RSPI was largely moderated by lower margins at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-3.0%).

Year-over-year highlights

The RSPI increased by 4.2% in the fourth quarter, compared with the same quarter in 2019. Of the 10 major retail subsectors surveyed, 8 were up and 2 were down.

Gasoline stations (+19.3%) contributed the most to the gain, recording the largest year-over-year increase since the introduction of the index. The margin rose as the decline in vendor prices outpaced that of retail prices. The tightening of public health restrictions in response to the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on low global demand for gasoline.

Food and beverage stores (+3.1%) and health and personal care stores (+5.6%) also reported year-over-year margin gains.

Lower margins at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-0.4%) moderated the year-over-year increase of the RSPI.

  Note to readers

The Retail Services Price Index (RSPI) represents the change in the price of retail services. The price of retail service is defined as the margin price, which is the difference between the average purchase price and the average selling price of the retail product being priced. The RSPI is not a retail selling price index.

With each release, data for the previous quarter may have been revised. The series is also subject to an annual revision with the release of second-quarter data of the following reference year. The indexes are not seasonally adjusted. Data are available at the Canada level only.

Methodological change for supermarkets and other grocery (except convenience) stores (NAICS 44511) and convenience stores (NAICS 44512)

Statistics Canada endeavors to reduce the burden on respondents and to improve data quality by finding alternate data sources. Notably, some major retailers now provide scanner data, which provides detailed sales information for products that they sell. With the release of data from the second quarter of 2020, data collected through questionnaires for some respondents in NAICS 44511 and 44512 have been replaced by scanner data, so the methodology for calculating indices for NAICS 44511 and 44512 has changed from the reference period January 2019 onward.


Statistics Canada has launched the new dashboard, "Wholesale and Retail Services Price Indexes: Interactive Tool." This web application provides access to wholesale and retail margins data by category.

Statistics Canada has launched the Producer Price Indexes Portal as part of a suite of portals for prices and price indexes. This web page provides Canadians with a single point of access to a variety of statistics and measures related to producer prices.

The video, "Producer Price Indexes," is available on the Statistics Canada Training Institute web page. It provides an introduction to Statistics Canada's producer price indexes—what they are, how they are produced and what they are used for.

Quality indicators

Data quality indicators are based on measures of survey precision (standard errors), estimates of market coverage (based on the RSPI sample) and the number of reported price quotes.

Index series without data quality indicators are considered to be statistically reliable.

Users are encouraged to take into account quality indicators when using RSPI data.

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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