Retail sales rose for the second consecutive month, advancing 0.4% to $44.2 billion in February. Gains were reported in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 89% of total retail trade.
The gain in February was tempered by lower sales at gasoline stations. Excluding sales in this subsector, retail sales advanced 1.0%.
After removing the effects of price changes, particularly lower gasoline prices, retail sales in volume terms increased 1.5%.
Most subsectors post higher sales in February
The largest increase in dollar terms was a 1.0% advance at motor vehicle and parts dealers, led by a 9.7% sales gain at other motor vehicle dealers, which include retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats. Higher sales were also reported at used car dealers (+4.4%) and new car dealers (+0.3%) in February. Sales at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+0.5%) increased for the fourth time in five months.
Following a 4.6% gain in January, sales at general merchandise stores rose 1.9%.
Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales advanced 2.7% in February. The increase was largely due to higher sales at clothing stores (+2.5%). Sales at shoe stores (+3.6%) and jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (+3.2%) also played a part in the subsector increase.
Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+1.3%) continued their upward trend in February, rising for the sixth time in seven months.
Increased sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (+2.0%) more than offset declines in December and January.
Receipts at food and beverage stores rose 0.2%. Results were mixed among store types. Higher sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (+2.2%) more than offset lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.4%). Convenience stores (+0.7%) and specialty food stores (+0.6%) reported gains.
Gasoline stations sales down eight months in a row
Sales at gasoline stations (-4.9%) continued their downward trend in February, recording the largest decline in dollar terms among all subsectors. Sales in this subsector have decreased for eight consecutive months to reach their lowest level since August 2010.
Sales up in eight provinces
Retail sales were up in eight provinces in February.
Ontario (+0.6%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, posting stronger sales across most store types.
Sales in British Columbia (+1.0%) advanced for the third time in four months.
Receipts in Quebec rose 0.3%, as higher sales were reported at general merchandise stores.
Nova Scotia (+1.1%) posted its first gain in three months, while sales were up in Newfoundland and Labrador (+1.5%), New Brunswick (+0.8%) and Prince Edward Island (+0.8%).
Receipts in Alberta (-0.4%) decreased for the fifth time in six months. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were more than offset by lower sales at gasoline stations.
Following four straight monthly increases, sales in Saskatchewan fell 0.4% as a result of lower sales at gasoline stations.