Retail trade, August 2022
Retail sales increased 0.7% to $61.8 billion in August. Sales increased in 6 of 11 subsectors, with these 6 subsectors representing 65.0% of retail trade. The increase was led by sales in food and beverage stores (+2.4%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+0.6%).
Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 0.9%.
In volume terms, retail sales were up 1.1% in August.
Given the continually evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales decreased 0.5% in September. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 48.3% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 90.8%.
Largest increase to core retail sales in five months
Core retail sales increased 0.9% in August, the largest increase since March 2022. Leading the increase were higher sales at food and beverage stores (+2.4%). Increases in sales were observed in all four store types in the subsector, led by higher sales at supermarkets and other grocery (except convenience) stores (+2.6%). The Consumer Price Index noted that prices of food purchased from stores rose 10.8% on a year-over-year basis, the largest increase observed since August 1981. Prices continued to be impacted by extreme weather, higher input costs, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and supply chain disruptions.
Also contributing to the gain in core retail sales were higher sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (+5.0%). Data from the Retail Commodity Survey have noted sustained strength in sporting equipment, in part due to many team sporting leagues resuming full capacity activities over the summer.
The largest decline to retail sales occurred at general merchandise stores. Sales fell 0.7%, posting the largest decline since February 2022.
Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers
Sales were up 0.6% at motor vehicle and parts dealers in August. The increase was due to higher sales at other motor vehicle dealers (+6.0%), used car dealers (+2.7%), and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+2.5%). Lower sales at new car dealers (-0.2%) partially offset the increase seen across the other three store types in this subsector.
Following a decline in July, sales at gasoline stations edged down 0.2% in August. In volume terms, sales at gasoline stations increased 7.0%. Gasoline prices fell 9.6% on an unadjusted basis in August, stemming from higher global production by oil-producing countries.
Sales up in six provinces
Retail sales increased in six provinces in August, led by higher sales in British Columbia (+2.0%). Leading the increase in British Columbia were higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales were up 3.3% in the Vancouver census metropolitan area (CMA).
Retail sales increased 1.2% in Quebec. Sales were up 3.4% in the Montréal CMA, which recorded its largest increase since January 2022.
In the Maritime provinces, retail sales were down in New Brunswick (-2.1%), Nova Scotia (-1.3%), and Prince Edward Island (-2.6%).
Retail e-commerce sales in Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 5.7% in August.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 8.1% year over year to $3.5 billion in August, accounting for 5.2% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales was unchanged compared with August 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 September will be released on November 22, 2022.
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