Retail trade, April 2022
Retail sales increased 0.9% to $60.7 billion in April. Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, led by higher sales at general merchandise stores (+4.2%).
Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 43.3% of retail trade.
Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 1.0%.
In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.9% in April.
Given the continually evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales increased 1.6% in May 2022. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 40.0% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 92.0%.
Core retail sales rise for a fourth consecutive month
Core retail sales were up 1.0% in April. Leading the increase to core retail were higher sales at general merchandise stores (+4.2%). This was the ninth increase in the last 11 months. According to The Retail Commodity Survey, food is the top commodity sold in this subsector and typically accounts for roughly one-third of total sales.
Sales were also up at miscellaneous store retailers (+11.3%). This was the largest increase in this subsector since February 2021. Stores in this subsector include pet stores, cannabis stores, office supplies and stationery stores and pool retailers.
The largest decline to retail sales came from building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-4.3%). This was the first decline in four months.
Receipts were also down at food and beverage stores (-0.5%). The decline was led by lower sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (-1.6%) followed by supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.3%). The declines reported in this subsector occurred as the Portrait of Canadian Society Survey noted that rising prices are affecting nearly 75% of Canadians' ability to meet day-to-day expenses such as transportation, housing, food and clothing. Rising prices have impacted consumer spending choices and have been felt most by those in lower income groups.
Sales at gasoline stations rise while sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers decline
Receipts at gasoline stations (+3.0%) were up for a fourth consecutive month in April. In volume terms, sales were up 5.4%. According to The Consumer Price Index, unadjusted gasoline prices were down 0.7% on a month-to-month basis, partially due to lower global demand expectations.
Sales fell 0.3% at motor vehicle and parts dealers, led by lower sales at new car dealers (-0.8%). In contrast, sales were up 1.7% at used car dealers, the first increase observed in six months. The New Motor Vehicle Sales Survey noted that year-over-year unit sales for new motor vehicles fell 13.6% compared with April 2021.
Sales up in eight provinces
Retail sales were up in eight provinces in April, led by higher sales in Ontario (+1.2%). Higher sales were observed at motor vehicle and parts dealers and general merchandise stores. Sales were up 2.6% in the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA).
Sales were up 0.8% in Quebec. The increase to April follows a 1.7% decline in March.
Higher sales were observed in British Columbia (+1.3%). Leading the increase were higher sales at gasoline stations. Sales were up 1.0% in the Vancouver CMA.
Retail e-commerce sales in Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 0.9% in April.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 21.0% year over year to $3.3 billion in April, accounting for 5.2% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 2.0 percentage points compared with April 2021.
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 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 May will be released on July 22, 2022.
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