Issue 20-48: Retail Sales

March 20, 2020

Retail sales in British Columbia (seasonally adjusted) remained virtually unchanged in January compared to December. There was a widespread decline among most sectors, led by clothing and clothing accessory stores and general merchandise stores.

Nationally, retail activity grew by 0.4% in January, mainly due to an increase in sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-+1.8%) and gasoline stations (+1.5%). Sales in the other nine subsectors (considered core retail sales) fell in the month (-0.3%), with the largest decreases in electronic and appliance stores (-2.7%), sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-1.8%) and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.6%).

Retail sales were up in seven provinces in January, led by Quebec (+1.7%), with New Brunswick (+3.3%) reporting the largest gain in the month among provinces.

Montreal (+0.3%) was the only reported census metropolitan area to see sales rise in the month, while Vancouver (-1.8%) and Toronto (-1.0%) posted declines. 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 18.4% (unadjusted) from the previous year in January, compared to 3.6% growth of all (unadjusted) retail sales.  

Source: Statistics Canada