Retail trade, October 2021
Retail sales were up 1.6% to $57.6 billion in October. The increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+2.2%), as new car dealer sales (+2.8%) rebounded.
Sales increased in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 59.9% of retail trade.
Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 1.5%.
In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.9% in October.
Given the rapidly evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales increased 1.2% in November. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 40.9% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 90.2%.
Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers lead increase in retail sales
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were up 2.2% in October. The increase was led by higher sales at new car dealers (+2.8%) as sales rebounded from two consecutive months of declines. The increase coincided with higher sales in the automotive subsectors of both manufacturing and wholesale trade in October. The effects of semiconductor chip shortages on motor vehicle supply inputs were less pronounced in October than in September.
Receipts at gasoline stations edged down 0.1% in October. In volume terms, sales were down 3.2%. The Consumer Price Index noted a 5.0% increase in gasoline prices in October.
Core retail sales increase on higher sales at general merchandise stores
Core retail sales were up 1.5% in October. The increase was led by higher sales at general merchandise stores (+2.8%) as sales rose for a fifth consecutive month.
Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (+17.5%) were up for a second month in a row. The increase coincided with the continued resumption of many recreational and school-based sporting leagues in the fall.
Also contributing to the increase were higher sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.2%). Sales were up for a third consecutive month, following four months of declines from April to July 2021.
Lower receipts were recorded at food and beverage stores (-0.6%). The decline was primarily due to weaker sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.8%) and to a lesser extent, lower sales at convenience stores (-1.9%).
Sales up in nine provinces
Retail sales were up in nine provinces in October, led by higher sales in Ontario (+1.9%). The increase in Ontario was largely driven by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Total retail sales were up 2.2% in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto.
Alberta (+3.8%) posted the second largest increase to retail sales in October. This was the largest increase in the province since January 2021 and was also the result of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Quebec posted the lone provincial decline, with sales down 0.2% in October. In the CMA of Montréal, sales declined 0.3%.
Retail e-commerce in Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales fell 0.9% in October.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 4.2% year over year to $3.3 billion in October, accounting for 5.5% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales increased 0.1 percentage points compared with October 2020.
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 advance estimate of 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 exactly the same as those outlined on 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 extensive and could even lead to a reversal of movement, especially for the reference months near the end of the series or during periods of economic disruption.
Seasonally adjusted estimates for cannabis store retailers are presented in unadjusted form since 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 does not have a storefront. These businesses are commonly referred to as pure-play Internet retailers and are classified under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 45411—electronic shopping and mail-order houses. The second type has a storefront and is commonly referred to as a brick-and-mortar retailer. If the online operations of a brick-and-mortar retailer are separately managed, they, too, are classified under NAICS code 45411.
Some common e-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.
Find more statistics on retail trade.
Data on retail trade for November 2021 will be released on January 21, 2022.
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