Canada: Retail trade, March 2017

Following a 0.4% decline in February, retail sales rose 0.7% in March to $48.3 billion on the strength of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 53% of total retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms rose 1.2%.

New car dealers lead gain

Motor vehicle and parts dealers (+3.2%) recorded the largest gain in dollar terms across all subsectors. The increase was largely attributable to higher sales at new car dealers (+3.8%). Used car dealers (+2.7%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+1.2%) also posted higher sales. Sales at other motor vehicle dealers (-1.4%) were down for the third month in a row.

Sales at general merchandise stores (+1.4%) were up for the third consecutive month.

Electronics and appliance stores (+3.1%) continued their upward trend in March.

Store types traditionally associated with housing purchases and home renovation showed growth in March. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+1.0%) and furniture and home furnishings stores (+0.8%) both increased for the sixth time in seven months.

Amid lower consumer prices for food purchased from stores, lower receipts were reported at food and beverage stores (-0.7%). This decrease was due in large part to weaker sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.6%) and, to a lesser extent, convenience stores (-2.9%).

Sales up in seven provinces

Retail sales were up in seven provinces in March. Higher sales in Ontario and British Columbia accounted for the majority of the increase.

In Ontario, retail sales increased 0.9%, primarily on the strength of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Sales in British Columbia rose 2.3%. Gains were widespread across most store types.

Following severe winter weather events in February, retail sales in Nova Scotia (+4.8%) rebounded on higher sales at new and used car dealers.

Sales in Saskatchewan (+2.7%) continued their upward trend in March, rising for the eighth consecutive month. Over this period, higher sales have been reported at general merchandise stores, gasoline stations, and health and personal care stores.

In Quebec, retail sales decreased 0.8%.

After increasing for seven consecutive months, sales in Alberta fell for the first time since mid-2016.

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 were $1.2 billion in March, accounting for 2.4% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce sales increased 43.2% while total unadjusted retail sales rose 9.5%.


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