Retail sales were relatively unchanged for the third consecutive month in July, edging down 0.1% to $44.1 billion.
Sales were down in 5 of 11 subsectors. Excluding gasoline stations, retail sales increased 0.2%.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms were up 0.3% in July.
Lower gas prices contribute to weaker sales at gasoline stations
Receipts at gasoline stations (-3.0%) fell for the first time in four months, with weaker sales recorded in every province. This decline reflected lower prices at the pump. According to the Consumer Price Index, the price of gasoline was down 5.6% on an unadjusted monthly basis in July.
Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores decreased 1.4%, as both furniture stores and home furnishings stores reported 1.4% declines.
Motor vehicle and parts dealers (-0.2%) recorded their fourth decline in five months. Within the subsector, sales at other motor vehicle dealers fell 4.1%. Sales at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores decreased 1.6%. Sales at new car dealers (+0.2%) were up for the second month in a row. Following four months of declines, used car dealers posted a 0.3% gain in July.
Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores rose 1.6%, with all store types posting gains in July. Clothing stores (+1.3%) and shoe stores (+3.9%) recorded higher sales in July. Sales at jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (+1.7%) were up for the third time in four months.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+1.5%) posted their first increase in three months.
Sales down in six provinces
Retail sales fell in six provinces in July. Declines in New Brunswick (-6.9%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-6.2%) coincided with an increase in the harmonized sales tax in both provinces in July. Weaker sales at new car dealers contributed to the decreases in both New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Retail sales were down in all three Prairie provinces, mainly as a result of lower sales at new car dealers and gasoline stations. In Saskatchewan, sales fell 3.3%, offsetting the gain in June. Receipts in Alberta (-0.8%) continued their downward trend in July, declining for the third consecutive month to reach their lowest level since June 2013. Sales in Manitoba were down 0.9%, the fourth decrease in five months.
Following two months of flat sales, Ontario recorded a 0.8% gain in July, which was due in large part to higher sales at new car dealers.
Sales in British Columbia (+0.9%) and Quebec (+0.2%) were up for the third time in four months.