Retail sales rose for the fourth consecutive month, advancing 0.5% to $43.6 billion in August. The increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Excluding this subsector, retail sales were flat.
Sales increased in 4 of 11 subsectors, representing 56% of retail trade.
In volume terms, retail sales increased 0.7%.
New car dealers lead gain
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers increased for the seventh consecutive month, rising 2.0% in August. Sales at new car dealers increased 1.7%, reflecting a higher number of new trucks sold. These gains were concentrated in Quebec and Ontario. Used car dealers reported their 9th increase in 10 months, rising 5.5%. Higher sales were also reported at other motor vehicle dealers (+4.8%), which include retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats.
Following relatively flat sales in June and July, sales at food and beverage stores increased 0.5% in August. The main contributors to the gain were beer, wine and liquor stores (+4.6%) and, to a lesser extent, convenience stores (+1.0%). After edging down in June and July, receipts at supermarkets and other grocery stores declined 0.4% in August. Lower sales were also reported by specialty food stores (-1.9%).
Furniture and home furnishings stores posted a 3.0% gain, following three months of relatively flat sales. Higher sales were reported by both furniture stores (+3.2%) and home furnishings stores (+2.6%).
Sales at gasoline stations (-0.6%) decreased for the second month in a row.
Miscellaneous store retailers reported a 2.3% sales decline, offsetting gains made in the previous two months. Stores in this subsector include used merchandise stores, office supplies and stationery stores, and pet and pet supplies stores.
Store types traditionally associated with back-to-school sales registered mixed results in August, when sales may have been affected by later starts to the school year in some jurisdictions.
Higher sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+0.3%) were more than offset by lower sales at general merchandise stores (-0.3%), which posted their first decline in four months. Electronics and appliance stores (-0.3%) and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-0.3%) also decreased.
Sales up in seven provinces
Retail sales rose in seven provinces in August. Quebec (+1.2%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, largely as a result of higher sales at new and used car dealers. This was the sixth increase in seven months for the province.
Sales in British Columbia rose 1.4%, the third increase in four months. Gains were widespread across most store types.
Sales in Ontario edged up 0.2% in August, the seventh consecutive monthly increase. Higher sales at new car dealers were partially offset by lower sales at gasoline stations.
Following three months of flat sales, retailers in Saskatchewan reported a 0.8% increase in August.
Retailers in New Brunswick posted their seventh straight monthly sales gain, rising 0.5% in August. This increase was mainly a result of higher sales at new car dealers.
Sales in Nova Scotia declined 1.1%. This decrease did not offset the previous four months of sales gains.
After increasing 2.1% in July, sales in Manitoba edged down 0.2%.
Following four straight monthly gains, sales in Newfoundland and Labrador declined 0.3%.