After three consecutive year-over-year declines, retail sales rose 4.8% in June 2020 to $56.9 billion. Higher sales were reported in 13 of the 19 commodity categories.

For July, the advance estimates from the Monthly Retail Trade Survey suggest that unadjusted total retail sales increased by 4.6%. Because it is preliminary, this figure is expected to be revised.

Consumer staples driving sales up

For the fourth straight month, the product category to post the largest increase was food (+10.4%). While sales of staples such as packaged food dry goods not elsewhere classified (+6.1%), eggs and dairy products (+13.8%), and frozen food (+27.9%) posted large increases, the biggest growth in dollar terms came from fresh fruit and vegetables (+13.6%). Higher sales of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages (+8.5%) were led by sales of alcoholic beverages (+7.5%).

On the road again

Sales of automotive and household fuels decreased 27.7% in June, a smaller year-over-year decline compared with May (-49.8%) and April (-60.3%). With the gradual reopening of businesses and public services, as well as a general increase in local travel, receipts of automotive fuels (-27.8%) fell at a slower pace in June.

While consumers are still spending less of their income on new motor vehicles, sales of recreational vehicles soared to a new high, up 50.3% in June from the previous year. New recreational boats (+51.6%) led this increase in sales. This category includes boats, canoes, kayaks and personal watercraft, as well as parts and accessories. As demand rose for vacationing and travelling within Canada, sales of new motor homes, travel trailers and truck campers increased 41.8%.

Closer to home…

With Canadians spending more time at home, spending on home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances and electronics rose 12.9%. The largest contributor to the increase came from higher sales of home appliances (+31.6%).

Sales of hardware, tools, and renovation and lawn and garden products increased 12.0%. The largest contributors to the rise in sales from the same month in the previous year were lumber and other renovation materials and supplies (+10.1%) and live plants, seeds, and other home and garden supplies (+29.3%).

Source: Statistics Canada