Retail trade, May 2022
Retail sales increased 2.2% to $62.2 billion in May, recording the fifth consecutive increase. Sales were up in 8 of 11 subsectors, representing 86.8% of retail trade. Sales were led by higher sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 0.6%.
In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.4% in May.
Given the continually evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales increased 0.3% in June. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 42.3% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 91.7%.
Higher sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers lead retail sales
Leading the increase in retail sales in May were higher sales at gasoline stations (+9.2%), which recorded its fifth consecutive increase. In volume terms, sales at gasoline stations decreased 2.2%. Gasoline prices rose 12.0% on an unadjusted basis in May, posting their largest monthly increase since May 2020.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were up 3.3% in May following three months of declines. The increase was largely the result of higher sales at new car dealers (+3.8%), which recorded its fastest pace of growth since February 2021. The gains at this store type were on the heels of greater manufacturing activity of passenger cars and light trucks in March and April, as North American automakers experienced a reprieve from supply chain issues that impacted output for a number of months. Higher sales were also reported at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+5.8%) and other motor vehicle dealers (+1.1%). In contrast, used car dealers (-1.6%) were the only store type in this subsector to decline.
Core retail sales were up 0.6% in May. Leading the increase were higher sales at food and beverage stores (+1.9%). The Consumer Price Index noted that food prices remained elevated in May, up 9.7% from the same month the previous year. Increases in input costs and supply chain disruptions continued to put upward pressure on prices.
Sales were also up at general merchandise stores (+1.4%) in May. This was the 10th increase in the last 12 months.
The largest decline to core retail sales in May came from miscellaneous store retailers (-6.7%), following gains in April. Stores in this subsector include pet stores, cannabis stores and office supplies and stationery stores.
Receipts at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down for a second consecutive month (-1.7%). Despite the decline in May, activity in this category remains high, with sales up 5.7% from May 2021.
Sales up in every province
Retail sales increased in all provinces in May, led by higher sales in Quebec (+3.4%). In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Montréal, sales rose 2.7%.
Higher sales were observed in Ontario (+1.9%) on the strength of higher sales at gasoline stations. Sales increased 0.6% in the CMA of Toronto.
Sales were up in Alberta (+1.9%) and Manitoba (+4.9%), both of which were led by higher sales at new car dealers.
Sales increased 1.3% in British Columbia, led by higher sales at gasoline stations. Sales were up 0.8% in the CMA of Vancouver.
Retail e-commerce sales in Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 2.9% in May.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales declined 23.5% year over year to $3.5 billion in May, accounting for 4.9% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 2.5 percentage points compared with May 2021, when many retailers faced restrictions on in-person shopping related to the spread of COVID-19.
Note to readers
With this release, volume data in table 20-10-0078-01 have been revised back to January 2018.
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 June will be released on August 19, 2022.
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