Retail sales were up 0.7% to $58.1 billion in November. The increase was led by higher sales at gasoline stations (+4.9%), building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.0%) and food and beverage stores (+1.0%).

Sales increased in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 63.8% of retail trade. Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 0.5%. In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.2% in November.

In November, severe flooding in British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces damaged infrastructure and led to evacuations in affected regions, resulting in major disruptions to the business operations of retailers across the country. Based on respondent feedback, 21% of retailers were impacted by the floods and evacuations in British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces, with 16% of retailers reporting a disruption in transportation as the most impacted business operation.

Given the rapidly evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales decreased 2.1% in December. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 50.6% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 90.0%.

Core retail sales increase on higher sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers and food and beverage stores

Core retail sales were up 0.5% in November. Leading the increase were higher sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.0%). While sales in this subsector have increased for four consecutive months, they have not reached the highs recorded in March 2021 and are similar to the level recorded one year prior, in November 2020.

Higher sales were recorded at food and beverage stores (+1.0%) in November 2021. The increase was led by receipts at supermarkets and other grocery stores (+1.6%) and to a lesser extent, beer, wine and liquor stores (+0.4%).

Also contributing to the increase in retail sales was clothing and clothing accessories stores (+3.0%). Sales at jewellery, luggage, and leather goods stores (+5.7%) rose after decreasing in October.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-10.0%) posted the largest decline in retail sales. The decline followed strong growth in October when higher sales of sporting and leisure products were recorded.

Sales up in seven provinces

Retail sales were up in seven provinces in November, led by higher sales in Quebec (+1.2%). In the census metropolitan area of Montréal, sales were up 0.9%.

On the heels of strong growth in October (+2.4%), retail sales in Ontario were up 0.5% in November. Contributing to this increase were higher sales at gasoline stations, and at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers.

Sales in British Columbia were up 0.8% in November amid flooding and landslides that impacted the province. Leading the increase were higher sales at gasoline stations and at food and beverage stores.

Retail e-commerce in Canada

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales fell 3.5% in November. On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 1.1% year over year to $4.3 billion in November, accounting for 6.9% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 0.4% compared with November 2020, coinciding with limited Cyber Monday sales at retailers amid supply chain constraints in November 2021.

Source: Statistics Canada