Retail sales decreased 0.5% to $61.1 billion in September. Sales declined in 7 of the 11 subsectors, representing 74.9% of retail trade. The decrease was led by sales at gasoline stations (-2.4%) and food and beverage stores (-1.3%).

Core retail sales—which exclude sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—decreased 0.4%. In volume terms, retail sales declined 0.1% in September.

Retail sales were down 1.0% in the third quarter. This was the first quarterly decline since sales fell by 11.9% in the second quarter of 2020. In volume terms, retail sales were down 1.4% in the third quarter of 2022.

Given the continually evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales increased 1.5% in October. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 46.4% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 90.4%.

Core retail sales decline

Core retail sales decreased 0.4% in September. Leading the decline were lower sales at food and beverage stores (-1.3%). The Consumer Price Index noted that prices of food purchased from stores rose 11.4% on a year-over-year basis in September.

Also contributing to the decline were lower sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-2.0%). This decrease occurred as the Bank of Canada’s most recent monetary policy report projected forthcoming weakness in interest-rate-sensitive retail sectors, such as home maintenance and furniture stores. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, and furniture and home furnishings stores both reported declines in the third quarter.

The largest increase to core retail sales occurred at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+1.7%). Sales were up in all three store types, led by higher sales at clothing stores (+1.5%).

Sales down in seven provinces

Retail sales decreased in seven provinces in September, led by lower sales in Quebec (-1.3%). Sales were down 1.9% in the census metropolitan area (CMA) of Montréal.

Sales decreased 2.0% in British Columbia. Leading the decline in British Columbia were lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales fell 3.8% in the CMA of Vancouver.

In Alberta, retail sales fell for the second consecutive month (-1.6%), led by lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Retail e-commerce sales in Canada

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 5.4% in September. On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 0.1% year over year to $3.4 billion in September, accounting for 5.3% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 0.4 percentage points compared with September 2021.

Source: Statistics Canada