After rebounding by 21.2% in May, retail sales rose by an additional 23.7% in June as reopening efforts continued across the country. At $53.0 billion, total sales in June surpassed pre-pandemic levels by 1.3% as all store types reported gains. Retail sales surpassed pre-pandemic levels in all provinces except Ontario and British Columbia.

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers accounted for almost one-half of the growth in June as spending strengthened to near-February levels. Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores more than doubled in June as brick-and mortar stores continued to open, including those in malls. Spending at these stores remained about 20% below levels in February.

Retail e-commerce sales, measured on an unadjusted basis, were $3.2 billion in June, accounting for 5.4% of total retail trade. E-commerce sales in June made up a smaller share of retail sales than in April and May, as more non-essential retailers opened their brick-and-mortar stores.

Statistics Canada also released an advance estimate of total retail sales in July. The estimate points to a month-over-month increase of approximately 0.7%.

Wholesaling activity strengthened markedly in June as widespread gains across subsectors pushed sales to near pre-pandemic levels. Wholesale sales rose 18.5% to $62.1 billion, about 4% below the level observed in February. June’s increase was led by higher sales of motor vehicles and parts, which more than doubled to $8.9 billion. Despite the sharp increase, sales at auto and auto parts wholesalers remained almost one-quarter below pre-pandemic levels. Higher sales of personal and household goods, building materials and supplies, and machinery and equipment also contributed to June’s headline increase.

Consumer price inflation moderated in July as lower gasoline prices and lower prices for air transportation and traveller accommodation weighed on the headline rate. The all-items consumer price index, measured year-over-year, rose 0.1% in July, after advancing 0.7% in June. The headline rate had fallen into negative territory during April and May as COVID-19-related restrictions led to severe declines in economic activity.

Gasoline prices, measured year-over-year, declined for the fifth consecutive month in July. Excluding gas prices, consumer price inflation slowed to 0.7%. Prices for air transportation fell for the first time on a year-over-year basis (-8.6%) since December 2015. While many flights remained cancelled or suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines were offering various incentives such as reduced fees, discounts and promotions to encourage a return to travel. Prices for traveller accommodation declined 27.0% year-over-year, posting record declines for the third consecutive month.

A new study released by Statistics Canada evaluated the extent to which small, medium and large businesses were affected differently by COVID-19 restrictions during the early stages of the pandemic. The report highlights relatively large declines in economic activity among smaller firms, particularly in service industries. The study “Economic Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadian Businesses across Firm Size Classes” was released on August 19th.

Source: Statistics Canada