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Statistics Canada Says Retail Sales Fell 0.1% To $66.1-Billion In August

Retail sales decreased 0.1% to $66.1 billion in August. Sales were down in six of nine subsectors and were led by decreases at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-0.9%).

Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and fuel vendors and motor vehicle and parts dealers—were down 0.3% in August.

In volume terms, retail sales declined 0.7% in August.

Chart 1 
Retail sales decrease in August

Chart 1: Retail sales decrease in August

Port strike in British Columbia

Based on respondent feedback, approximately 12% of Canadian retailers reported that their business activities in August had been affected by the strike at the ports in British Columbia.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers fall

The decrease in retail sales in August was led by lower sales in the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector (-0.9%), down for a second consecutive month. Lower sales were reported at new car dealers (-1.1%) and used car dealers (-0.5%). Other motor vehicle dealers (+1.1%) were the only store type in this subsector to increase in August.

The largest increase in retail sales in August was observed at gasoline stations and fuel vendors (+2.8%). In volume terms, sales at gasoline stations and fuel vendors decreased 2.9%.

Core retail sales decline

Core retail sales decreased 0.3% in August, led by lower sales at food and beverage retailers (-1.2%) and, to a lesser extent, sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, book and miscellaneous retailers (-1.1%). Sales at food and beverage retailers were down from lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery retailers (except convenience retailers) (-1.6%) and beer, wine and liquor retailers (-1.2%).

The largest increase to core retail sales came from health and personal care retailers (+1.2%).

Chart 2 
Sales decrease in six of nine subsectors in August

Chart 2: Sales decrease in six of nine subsectors in August

Sales down in six provinces

Retail sales decreased in six provinces in August. The largest provincial decrease was observed in British Columbia (-1.1%), led by lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Vancouver, sales were down 1.6%.

In Quebec, retail sales were down 0.5% in August. In the CMA of Montréal, retail sales edged down 0.2%.

The largest provincial increase in August was observed in Alberta (+0.9%). This increase was driven by higher sales at gasoline stations and fuel vendors.

Retail sales dropped 22.1% in the Northwest Territories in August, coinciding with wildfire evacuations.

Retail e-commerce sales in Canada

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 2.0% to $3.9 billion in August, accounting for 5.8% of total retail trade, compared with 6.0% in July.

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