Retail trade, January 2022
Retail sales increased 3.2% to $58.9 billion in January. The increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+5.3%), as sales at new car dealers (+5.5%) rebounded in January following a decline in December 2021.
Sales were up in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 85.5% of retail trade.
Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 2.9%.
In volume terms, retail sales were up 2.9% in January.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, provincial governments implemented public health restrictions in several regions across the country, which directly affected the retail sector. In light of evolving restrictions, both retailers and consumers have adapted to these business conditions.
Based on respondent feedback, 2.6% of retailers were closed at some point in January compared with 13.9% of retailers reporting closures one year prior.
Given the rapidly evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales decreased 0.5% in February 2022. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 36.6% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 89.9%.
Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers lead retail sales
Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+5.3%) led the growth in retail sales in January. The increase was largely the result of gains at new car dealers (+5.5%), which follows an increase in imports of motor vehicles and parts in December 2021. Higher sales were also recorded at used car dealers (+9.7%) and other motor vehicle dealers (+7.4%). Automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (-3.2%) were the only store type in this subsector to record a decrease in January after posting growth in each of the previous two months.
Sales at gasoline stations were unchanged in January. In volume terms, sales were down 0.2% as public health measures that restricted services and public gatherings were heightened in several regions across the country in early January.
Core retail sales rise on gains at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers as well as food and beverage stores
Core retail sales were up 2.9% in January. Leading the increase were higher sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+8.9%), which increased for the fifth time in six months. The increase in January was also the fastest pace of growth recorded in this subsector since March 2021 (+21.5%).
Higher sales were also reported at food and beverage stores (+2.2%). Receipts were up in three out of four store types, with supermarkets and other grocery stores (+2.9%) leading the gains. The increase coincided with higher prices of frozen meat and fresh fruits in January. Beer, wine and liquor stores (-0.9%) were the only store type in this subsector to decline following a decrease in December 2021.
Sales up in nine provinces
Retail sales were up in nine provinces in January led by higher sales in Ontario (+3.1%). The increase in Ontario was driven by higher sales at both motor vehicle and parts dealers and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. Sales were up 2.5% in the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA).
Sales in Quebec increased 3.9% in January. In the Montréal CMA, sales were up 3.7%.
Sales in British Columbia rose 4.0% in January. Leading the increase were higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and food and beverage stores. Sales were up 5.4% in the Vancouver CMA.
Retail e-commerce in Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 8.3% in January.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 14.4% year over year to $3.2 billion in January, accounting for 6.3% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 1.8 percentage points compared with January 2021, when retailers were mandated to close their brick and mortar stores to in-person shopping in many regions across the country.
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 February will be released on April 22.
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