Retail sales increased 2.2% to $62.2 billion in May, recording the fifth consecutive increase. Sales were up in 8 of 11 subsectors, representing 86.8% of retail trade. Sales were led by higher sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 0.6%. In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.4% in May.

Given the continually evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales increased 0.3% in June. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 42.3% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 91.7%.

Core Retail

Core retail sales were up 0.6% in May. Leading the increase were higher sales at food and beverage stores (+1.9%). The Consumer Price Index noted that food prices remained elevated in May, up 9.7% from the same month the previous year. Increases in input costs and supply chain disruptions continued to put upward pressure on prices.

Sales were also up at general merchandise stores (+1.4%) in May. This was the 10th increase in the last 12 months.

The largest decline to core retail sales in May came from miscellaneous store retailers (-6.7%), following gains in April. Stores in this subsector include pet stores, cannabis stores and office supplies and stationery stores.

Receipts at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were down for a second consecutive month (-1.7%). Despite the decline in May, activity in this category remains high, with sales up 5.7% from May 2021.

Sales up in every province

Retail sales increased in all provinces in May, led by higher sales in Quebec (+3.4%). In the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Montréal, sales rose 2.7%.

Higher sales were observed in Ontario (+1.9%) on the strength of higher sales at gasoline stations. Sales increased 0.6% in the CMA of Toronto.

Sales were up in Alberta (+1.9%) and Manitoba (+4.9%), both of which were led by higher sales at new car dealers.

Sales increased 1.3% in British Columbia, led by higher sales at gasoline stations. Sales were up 0.8% in the CMA of Vancouver.

Retail e-commerce sales in Canada

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 2.9% in May. On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales declined 23.5% year over year to $3.5 billion in May, accounting for 4.9% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 2.5% compared with May 2021, when many retailers faced restrictions on in-person shopping related to the spread of COVID-19.

Source: Statistics Canada