Retail sales reached $55.4 billion in November, an increase of 4.2% compared with the same month a year prior. This was the sixth consecutive year-over-year increase in sales for the sector. Higher sales were reported in 11 of the 19 commodity categories.

Looking ahead to December, the advance estimate provided by the Monthly Retail Trade Survey suggests that unadjusted total retail sales increased by 5.2%. Owing to its preliminary nature, this figure is expected to be revised.

Tis the season

Canadian retailers saw their largest gains come from discretionary spending in the month of November. A prolonged Black Friday and Christmas spending season led to record sales of home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances and electronics, an increase of 18.8% from the same month a year prior. Increasing sales were seen in all six of the products within the category, with the largest gains coming from home appliances (+34.6%), home furnishings (+26.0%) and home electronics (+14.7%).

In November, retailers saw rising sales in electronic game consoles (+74.1%) following the release of new Microsoft and Sony gaming systems. Increasing sales were also seen in toys and games (+39.0%).

Restrictions related to the COVID-19 resurgence feed food and beverage growth

With COVID-19 restrictions being put in place across the country, Canadian retailers saw continued growth in food (+7.7%) as restrictions in the food service industry continued to drive consumers to retail. Sales were up in the same seven product categories as the month prior. 

Home improvement

Consumers continued to spend on tools and projects around the house in November, with hardware, tools, and renovation and lawn and garden products increasing 24.7% from the same month a year prior. Growth in the product category was driven primarily by increasing sales in renovation materials and supplies (+25.1%). The largest contributor to the growth of this category was lumber and other renovation materials and supplies (+44.0%).

Source: Statistics Canada