Retail Commodity Survey, February 2022

Retail sales reached $48.0 billion in February, an increase of 7.3% compared with the same month a year earlier. Higher sales were reported in 15 of the 19 commodity classes.

The advance estimate provided by the Monthly Retail Trade Survey suggests that unadjusted total retail sales in March increased by 4.4%. Because of its preliminary nature, this figure will be revised.

Fuel and motor vehicle sales drive retail sales in February

The largest increase in dollar terms came from sales of automotive and household fuels, which rose 37.1% compared with February 2021. This gain was spurred by higher prices seen at the pump, with sales of automotive fuels continuing to exceed pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels, up 25.6% compared with February 2020. Higher sales were also posted in the clothing commodity class, up 35.4% compared with February 2021. 

The largest decrease in dollar terms came from food, which posted a year-over-year decline of 0.7% in the month of February. In this product class, the largest drop was in fresh food (-1.3%).

Source: Statisitcs Canada

Wholesale Trade, March 2022

Wholesale sales rose 0.3% in March to $79.8 billion, with the largest increases coming in the building material and supplies and the motor vehicle and motor vehicle accessories and parts subsectors. This was the seventh increase in the past eight months. Sales rose in four of seven subsectors, representing 64% of the total wholesale sector. Constant dollar sales fell 0.6%.

Six provinces reported higher wholesale sales in March, accounting for 64% of national sales, led by Ontario. Sales in Ontario rose 1.5% to $40.4 billion in March, with higher sales in five of the seven subsectors.

With most provinces and territories having relatively tempered monthly movements, the next largest change was a downward movement in Saskatchewan. In the province, following six consecutive months of growth, sales decreased 9.0% to $3.3 billion. While five of seven subsectors had lower sales, over three-quarters of the decline was due to a 12.1% fall in the miscellaneous subsector, which accounted for 58% of the province’s sales.

In the first quarter of 2022, nine provinces and one territory had higher sales than in the fourth quarter of 2021. Together, they represented 98% of national quarterly sales. While contributing to almost 11% of the quarterly national sales, leading the gains was British Columbia. In the province, sales reached $25.0 billion, an 11.6% increase compared with the fourth quarter of 2021. This increase was largely on the strength of the building material and supply subsector. Quarterly wholesale sales increased 1.7% to $120.6 billion in Ontario, 4.5% to $45.4 billion in Quebec, and 6.0% to $25.2 billion in Alberta. Together with British Columbia, these four provinces accounted for 90% of national sales.

Inventories rose 0.4% to $108.7 billion in March, the second consecutive monthly increase. Four of seven subsectors reported increased inventories, representing 42.3% of the total value. Inventories in the personal and household goods subsector increased by 5.6% in March.

Overall, inventory growth in March was partially offset by decreases of machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers, the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories merchant wholesalers, and the building material and supplies merchant wholesalers.

The inventory-to-sales ratio stayed at 1.36 in March. This ratio is a measure of the time (in months) required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their levels.

Wholesale inventories increased by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2022. This increase was led by quarterly growth in stocks of machinery, equipment and supplies merchant wholesalers, up 2.1%, and the miscellaneous merchant wholesalers, which grew 3.4%. Inventory growth in the first quarter of 2022 was mainly mitigated by the motor vehicle and motor vehicle parts and accessories merchant wholesalers, which shrank by 6.7%.

Source: Statistics Canada

Labour Force Survey, April 2022

Employment was little changed in April after two consecutive months of growth. The unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 5.2%. As of the April reference week (April 10 to 16), remaining capacity limits affecting business operations had generally been lifted, although some combination of masking, proof-of-vaccination, or testing remained a requirement in some settings in certain jurisdictions.

Highlights from the Labour Force Survey are as follows:

  • Employment was little changed in April 2022, after two consecutive months of growth.
  • The employment rate held steady at 61.9%.
  • Employment rose among core-aged women (+43,000; +0.7%), and declined among core-aged men (-36,000; -0.5%) in April.
  • Employment increased in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Alberta, while it declined in Quebec.
  • Employment gains in professional, scientific and technical services, as well as in public administration, were offset by declines in construction and retail trade.
  • Total hours worked were down 1.9% in April, partly due to an increase in illness-related absences.
  • In April, average hourly wages were up 3.3% (+$0.99 to $31.06) year over year, similar to the growth observed in March (+3.4%; +$1.03).
  • After reaching a record low of 5.3% in March, the unemployment rate edged down 0.1 percentage points to 5.2% in April.
  • The unemployment rate for people aged 25 to 54 fell 0.2 percentage points to 4.3%, the lowest recorded rate since comparable data became available in 1976.
  • Long-term unemployment accounted for 20.6% of total unemployment in April 2022, up from the pre-pandemic February 2020 level of 15.6%.
  • More employees headed back to the office in April, 19.0% of workers reported usually worked exclusively from home, down from 24.3% in January.

To read the full report, visit the Statistics Canada website. 

Source: Statistics Canada