Canada: Retail trade, November 2016

Retail sales rose for the fourth consecutive month, edging up 0.2% to $45.2 billion in November. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were the main contributors to the gain.

Sales were up in 5 of 11 subsectors, representing 45% of total retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.7%.

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers

Sales were up for the third consecutive month at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+0.8%) in November. Higher sales at new car dealers (+1.9%) accounted for most of the gain at the subsector level. Sales at other motor vehicles dealers, which include retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats, were up 1.8%. Lower sales were reported at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (-11.0%) and used car dealers (-3.5%).

Store types traditionally associated with housing purchases and home renovation experienced sales growth in November. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+2.9%) and furniture and home furnishings stores (+2.0%) increased for the third consecutive month. This was the largest gain in the building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers subsector since January 2016.

Following a 4.2% increase in October, receipts at gasoline stations were down 1.0% in November, reflecting lower prices at the pump.

Sales at food and beverage stores declined 0.5% in November. Lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.9%) more than offset higher sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (+1.4%).

Sales up in seven provinces

Retail sales were up in seven provinces in November.

Ontario (+0.5%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, as gains were observed in 8 of 11 subsectors.

Retail sales rose for the fourth consecutive month in Quebec (+0.3%). November’s gain was mainly attributable to higher sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers and new car dealers.

In Saskatchewan (+1.6%), retail sales reached their highest level since June 2016, primarily on the strength of higher sales at new car dealers.

In Nova Scotia (+2.0%), retail sales increased for the fifth consecutive month in November.

Retail sales were also up in New Brunswick (+0.8%) and Prince Edward Island (+2.1%).

Following five consecutive monthly increases, sales in British Columbia fell 0.7% in November. Despite this decline, total retail sales remain above September’s level.

Following three consecutive monthly gains, retail sales in Alberta were down 0.5% in November, largely due to lower sales at automotive, parts accessories and tire stores.

E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers

The figures in this section are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates.

On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales reached $1.4 billion in November, accounting for 3.0% of total retail sales in Canada, their highest proportion of total retail sales in 2016.

This unadjusted movement in Internet-based sales coincided with the timing of promotional events such as Black Friday.

Mixed results at stores traditionally associated with Black Friday

Store types associated with Black Friday promotions reported mixed results in November, as receipts at electronics and appliance stores were up 1.0%, while sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores were down 0.3%, the first decline in three months.

Within the clothing and clothing and accessories stores subsector, gains at clothing stores (+0.1%) and jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (+0.2%) were more than offset by lower sales at shoe stores (-1.9%).

The evolution of retail trade in Canada

As 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we take a look at an aspect of the history of retail trade in Canada.

Net sales of the retail automotive group amounted to $34.7 million in 1930, representing 6% of total retail trade. In 2015, 85 years later, sales in the equivalent motor vehicle parts dealers subsector totalled $126.4 billion, accounting for 25% of total retail sales.


This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Dean Popplewell

Dean Popplewell

Vice-President of Market Analysis at MarketPulse
Dean Popplewell has nearly two decades of experience trading currencies and fixed income instruments. He has a deep understanding of market fundamentals and the impact of global events on capital markets. He is respected among professional traders for his skilled analysis and career history as global head of trading for firms such as Scotia Capital and BMO Nesbitt Burns. Since joining OANDA in 2006, Dean has played an instrumental role in driving awareness of the forex market as an emerging asset class for retail investors, as well as providing expert counsel to a number of internal teams on how to best serve clients and industry stakeholders.
Dean Popplewell