Following four months of gains, retail sales fell 0.5% in September to $43.3 billion. Sales were down in 8 of 11 subsectors, representing 60% of retail trade.
After removing the effects of price changes, particularly lower gasoline prices, retail sales in volume terms edged up 0.1%.
Lower sales at gasoline stations
Sales at gasoline stations declined 3.7% in September to their lowest level since January 2015, reflecting lower prices at the pump. According to the Consumer Price Index, unadjusted gasoline prices declined 7.9% in September compared with August.
Following seven consecutive monthly advances, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were down 0.5% in September, partly offsetting August’s gains. The overall subsector decline was due in large part to weaker sales at new car dealers (-0.6%) and, to a much lesser extent, automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (-1.4%). Higher sales were reported at other motor vehicle dealers (+2.0%).
Sales were down at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-3.3%) from weaker sales at sporting goods stores.
Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores fell 1.2% in September. For the second consecutive month, lower receipts were posted at both clothing stores (-0.8%) and shoe stores (-2.8%). Jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (-2.3%) also reported lower sales in September.
Receipts at furniture and home furnishings stores (-1.2%) decreased for the second time in three months. September’s decline was attributable to lower sales at home furnishings stores (-1.8%) and furniture stores (-0.9%).
General merchandise stores sales were up for the fourth time in five months, rising 1.2%.
Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers advanced 0.4%, though the level of sales remained below the all-time high recorded in May.
Receipts at food and beverage stores edged up 0.1% in September. The main contributors to the gain were supermarkets and other grocery stores (+0.2%) and specialty food stores (+0.6%). Sales at beer, wine and liquor stores were relatively unchanged. Lower receipts were reported at convenience stores (-1.8%).
Sales down in six provinces
Retail sales were down in six provinces in September.
Quebec (-1.3%) reported the largest decrease in dollar terms, after registering increases the previous four months. New car dealers and clothing stores accounted for most of the decline.
In Alberta, sales were down 1.1%, with decreases across most store types.
Retail sales in Ontario (-0.4%) fell for the second month in a row, after increasing the previous six months. The decline was due to lower receipts at gasoline stations.
Sales in Saskatchewan were down 0.7% in September. Gains registered at new car dealers did not offset lower sales at gasoline stations.
Following seven straight monthly gains, sales in New Brunswick decreased 0.6% in September.
Sales in Nova Scotia (+1.3%) rose for the fifth time in six months, mainly as a result of higher sales at new car dealers.
Retail sales in British Columbia (+0.2%) registered their fourth gain in five months.