Retail sales rose 0.4% to $49.1 billion in July. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and food and beverage stores were the main contributors to the gain.
Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 75% of total retail trade.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.2%.
Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and food and beverage stores
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were up 0.8% in July. Higher sales at new car dealers (+1.4%) accounted for the increase at the subsector level, more than offsetting declines at the other store types. Following gains in June, sales declined at used car dealers (-2.4%), other motor vehicle dealers (-2.7%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (-0.2%).
Receipts at food and beverage stores were up 0.9%, rising for the fourth consecutive month. Higher sales were reported at all store types within the subsector. Sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (+0.7%) and beer, wine and liquor stores (+1.8%) were the main contributors to the increase.
Health and personal care stores (+0.7%) reported higher sales for the sixth time in seven months.
Sales at miscellaneous store retailers advanced 0.9%, rising for the fourth consecutive month. Stores in this subsector include used merchandise stores, office supplies and stationery stores, and pet and pet supplies stores.
Sales at gasoline stations (-0.3%) were down for the third consecutive month in July.
Following a 1.9% gain in June, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-0.2%) posted their first decline in five months.
Sales up in eight provinces
Retail sales were up in eight provinces in July.
Quebec (+1.0%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, led by higher sales at new car dealers. Excluding sales at new car dealers, retail sales in Quebec decreased.
British Columbia (+0.7%) posted higher sales for the fifth consecutive month.
Sales in Ontario (+0.2%) increased for the fourth time in five months. Higher sales at food and beverage stores and health and personal care stores more than offset lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Following three consecutive months of growth, retail sales in Alberta declined 0.6% in July. Lower sales were reported at motor vehicle and parts dealers.
Sales in Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.6%) decreased for the fifth time in six months.
Retail sales increase in two of three census metropolitan areas measured
Nearly 30% of total retail sales take place in Canada’s three largest census metropolitan areas (CMAs): Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver. Historically, only unadjusted data series were available for these CMAs, but starting with the June 2017 release, seasonally adjusted series are now available.
In July, seasonally adjusted retail sales rose in two of the three CMAs measured. Retail sales in Vancouver (+1.3%) and Montréal (+0.9%) increased, while Toronto reported a 0.5% decline.
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 July, accounting for 2.3% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 46.8%, while total unadjusted retail sales rose 6.7%.