Retail trade, February 2022
Retail sales edged up 0.1% to $59.9 billion in February. This was the fourth increase in the last five months. Higher sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+15.1%) and gasoline stations (+6.2%) were offset by lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-5.1%).
Sales were up in 6 of the 11 subsectors, representing 47.2% of retail trade.
Core retail sales—which exclude sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 1.4%.
In volume terms, retail sales were down 0.4% in February.
Given the rapidly evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales increased 1.4% in March 2022. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 36.8% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 92.5%.
Core retail sales continue to climb
Leading the increase in core retail sales in February were higher sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+15.1%). Sales were up for the first time in three months, led by higher sales at clothing stores (+19.1%). Sales also rose at shoe stores (+12.4%), which experienced their first increase since July 2021.
Higher sales were recorded at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+5.6%). This was the sixth increase in the last seven months and follows a 10.9% gain in January.
Receipts were up 0.3% at food and beverage stores. Sales rose in three of the four store types, with beer, wine and liquor stores (+2.4%) and supermarkets and other grocery stores (+0.2%) leading the gains. According to the Consumer Price Index, food prices were up 7.4% on a year-over-year basis, the largest increase since May 2009.
The largest decline in core retail sales came from general merchandise stores, where sales were down 1.2%.
Sales at gasoline stations rise, while sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers decline
Receipts at gasoline stations were up 6.2% in February. In volume terms, sales rose 3.4%. Gasoline prices increased 6.9% in the month amid global supply chain uncertainty and geopolitical conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Sales were down at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-5.1%) for the first time in five months. It was the largest decline since sales fell by 6.2% in December 2020. Lower sales were observed in all four store types, led by new car dealers (-4.6%). According to the New Motor Vehicle Sales Survey, the number of new cars sold fell by 11.0% compared with February 2021.
Sales up in four provinces
Retail sales increased in four provinces in February, led by higher sales in Manitoba (+5.1%) and Nova Scotia (+4.3%).
Sales were up 0.3% in Ontario. The increase was driven by higher sales at gasoline stations. Sales rose 2.8% in the census metropolitan area of Toronto.
Lower sales were observed in Newfoundland and Labrador (-7.8%), British Columbia (-0.9%), and Quebec (-0.4%).
Retail e-commerce in Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 4.6% in February.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales declined 23.1% year over year to $2.6 billion in February, accounting for 5.3% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 2.0 percentage points compared with February 2021, when many retailers were mandated to close their brick-and-mortar stores to in-person shopping in several regions across the country.
Note to readers
Starting with the April 2022 release of February data, estimates for the Monthly Retail Trade Survey are being calculated using a new sample. The sample is periodically refreshed to reflect the evolution of the target population since the last sample was drawn. The change is reflected on the Business Register through births, deaths and reclassifications in the survey population. The sample design has also been modified to be more efficient and to allow increased use of administrative data sources. Seasonal adjustment specifications and factors were reviewed and updated.
Regular annual revisions for 2021 and 2020 and typical historical revisions were also included in the new data series.
The data have been revised using historical linkage factors designed to preserve the continuity of the time series. This linkage method leads to larger revisions for more recent periods.
Seasonally adjusted estimates in table 20-10-0008 have been revised back to 2014. Unadjusted estimates in table 20-10-0008 have been revised back to 2017. Volume estimates and indexes in table 20-10-0078 have been revised back to 2014. Unadjusted estimates in table 20-10-0072 have been revised back to 2017 and seasonally adjusted estimates back to 2016.
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 no seasonal pattern has been 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 March will be released on May 26, 2022.
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