Retail Sales Zooming: Up 1.1% To $53.9 Billion

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Higher Prices also noted at food and beverage stores. Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

OTTAWA: Retail sales rose 1.1% to $53.9 billion in September—the fifth consecutive monthly increase since the record decline in April.

Core retail sales—which excludes gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—also rose 1.1%, on higher sales at general merchandise stores and food and beverage stores, according to Statistics Canada.

Retail sales were up in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 93.2% of retail trade. In volume terms, sales were up 1.1% in September.

Rounding out the third quarter, retail sales were up 22.6% compared with the second quarter. In volume terms, retail sales rose 21.5%.

Given the rapidly evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales were relatively unchanged in October. Owing to its preliminary nature, this figure will be revised.

This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 50% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 88.5%.

Core retail sales rise on higher sales at general merchandise and food and beverage stores. Core retail sales rose at almost three times the pace (+1.1%) in September compared with August (+0.4%), led by the first increase at general merchandise stores (+1.8%) in three months.

Sales at food and beverage stores (+0.9%) rose for the second consecutive month, partially due to higher prices for meat, fish and dairy products. Retail sales bounced back at furniture and home furnishings stores (+4.5%) following a 2.0% decrease in August.

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers increased for the fifth consecutive month, up 1.5% in September (seasonally adjusted) and 1.7% above February levels.

For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, new motor vehicle sales were up 2.5% year over year in dollar terms in September. Sales of trucks, an aggregate group which includes light trucks, heavy trucks and buses, increased 5.7% year over year, while passenger car sales declined 12.5%.

New motor vehicle sales exceeded the pre-pandemic level (February 2020) by over one-third (+36.9%) in September. Sales at gasoline stations (+0.2%) rose for the fifth consecutive month in September. In volume terms, sales were up 0.6%.

Sales up in eight provinces

In Ontario, sales rose 1.0% with general merchandise stores leading the growth. In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Toronto, sales increased 1.2%.

In Alberta, retail sales were up 2.5% in September, led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers also drove the sales growth in British Columbia (+1.7%). In the CMA of Vancouver, sales rose 0.9%.

Sales in Quebec rose for the fifth consecutive month, edging up 0.2% in September. In the CMA of Montréal, sales were up 0.4%.

Retail e-commerce sales in Canada up by three-quarters year over year On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales reached $3.2 billion in September, accounting for 5.6% of total retail trade.

The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales rose 0.5 percentage points from August—despite more retailers expanding in-person shopping in accordance with public health measures—and was up 2.1 percentage points year over year.

Retail e-commerce sales were up 74.3% year over year in September, while total unadjusted retail sales increased by 9.3%. When adjusted for basic seasonal effects, retail e-commerce rose 8.1%.

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