Retail sales edged down 0.1% to $44.1 billion in June. Weaker sales at food and beverage stores and general merchandise stores offset higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Sales were down in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 54% of retail trade.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms declined 0.3% in June.
Weaker sales at food and beverage stores and general merchandise stores
Food and beverage stores (-1.5%) recorded the largest decrease in dollar terms among subsectors in June. After advancing 6.4% in May, sales at beer, wine and liquor stores were down 4.7%, the largest monthly drop since June 2013. Receipts at supermarkets and other grocery stores fell 0.9% in June. Following three months of declines, sales at specialty food stores posted a 1.1% gain. Sales at convenience stores were up 0.3%.
General merchandise stores recorded a 1.5% sales decrease in June, down for the second month in a row.
Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.9%) fell for the third time in four months.
Clothing and clothing accessories stores posted a 1.7% sales decline in June. Sales at clothing stores (-1.7%) and shoe stores (-3.6%) were down, following gains in May. Jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores recorded a 1.1% sales increase.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were up 2.0% in June. The gain in this subsector was attributable to a 2.5% increase at new car dealers, where sales rose for the first time in five months. Automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+0.8%) and other motor vehicle dealers (+0.8%) also recorded higher sales. Conversely, sales at used car dealers (-1.8%) decreased for the fourth straight month.
Sales at gasoline stations (+1.8%) rose for the third consecutive month, largely reflecting higher prices at the pump.
Sales down in five provinces
Retail sales fell in five provinces in June, with Quebec (-0.8%) reporting the largest decrease in dollar terms. The sales decline in Quebec was mainly due to weaker sales at food and beverage stores and new car dealers.
Retail sales in Alberta (-0.4%) fell for the second month in a row. Lower sales were recorded at clothing stores and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. New car dealers and gasoline stations posted higher sales in June.
In Nova Scotia, sales were down 0.8%, mainly as a result of lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Sales in Saskatchewan advanced 2.1% in June, led by stronger sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
In New Brunswick, sales rose 1.8% in June on the strength of higher sales at new car dealers, which preceded a two percentage point increase in the harmonized sales tax in New Brunswick.
Fort McMurray wildfire and evacuation
When collecting data for the June reference month, the Monthly Retail Trade Survey added three supplementary questions to assess the impact of the Fort McMurray wildfire, which started in early May 2016. These questions were submitted to a provincial sample of about 790 businesses in Alberta.
Overall, 4% of the sample, or 33 retailers, reported that their business activities in June had been affected by the wildfire and evacuation in the Fort McMurray area. Of these 33 retailers, one-third were able to provide an estimate of the impact on sales. Most retailers reported a decline in their sales, while a few others recorded increases. The remaining two-thirds reported an impact on their sales, but could not quantify the effects of the wildfire.
Overall, the impact of the wildfire and evacuation on retail sales in Alberta was smaller in June than in May.