Issue 18-38: Retail Sales

February 22, 2018

Retail sales in British Columbia (seasonally adjusted) fell by 0.6% in December compared to November. Notable gains were observed in clothing and clothing accessories, and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, while the largest declines were in motor vehicle and parts dealers and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers.

Nationally, retail activity went down by 0.8% in December. The largest declines were observed in electronics and appliance stores (‑9.1%) and general merchandise stores (‑5.3%). Motor vehicle and parts dealers (+2.1%) saw the largest gain in sales among sub-industries.

Retail sales were down in six provinces and two territories in December. The largest sales decreases among provinces were recorded in Ontario (‑1.6%) and Manitoba (‑1.4%), while the largest increase was in Newfoundland and Labrador (+0.4%).

Among reported census metropolitan areas, retail sales rose in Montreal (+0.5%), while Toronto (‑1.9%), and Vancouver (‑1.4%) saw declines in December. Note that these three census metropolitan areas represent nearly one third of all retail sales in Canada.

Retail e-commerce continues to grow faster than overall retail sales. Retail e‑commerce was up 4.1% (unadjusted) from the previous year in December, compared to 3.2% growth of all (unadjusted) retail sales.  

Annual Retail Sales 2017

Sales at British Columbian retailers grew 9.6% in 2017, the highest annual growth rate since 1994 and the largest increase among provinces. The largest gains in retail sales were observed in building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+25.7%), motor vehicle and parts dealers (+18.2%) and gasoline stations (+17.9%). All store types saw gains in the year with the exception of sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (‑2.0%).

Nationally, retail sales grew 6.7% in 2017. Retail e-Commerce sales went up by 30.6%, increasing the share of online retail sales from 2.1% in 2016 to 2.6% in 2017. All provinces saw gains in the year, led by British Columbia, followed by Alberta (+7.5%).

Source: Statistics Canada