Retail sales declined for the first time in four months, edging down 0.1% to $51.5 billion in May. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales decreased 1.0%.

Sales were down in 4 of 11 sub-sectors, representing 39% of retail trade. Lower sales at food and beverage stores were the main contributors to the decline. Clothing, accessories and general merchandise stores were down for the second month in a row. 

Motor vehicle and parts dealers edged up 0.5%  lower sales at new car dealers was offset by an increase in sales at all other store types in this sub-sector. 

For the fourth consecutive month, sales at gasoline stations increased, this month by 3.5%.

Sales at cannabis stores rose 14.8% in May, surpassing $85 million which is the third consecutive month of double-digit growth.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms decreased 0.5%.

Sales decreased in eight provinces, however Ontario and Quebec saw small increases in retail sales. 

Finally, on an unadjusted (not seasonally adjusted) basis, retail e-commerce sales were $1.8 billion in May, accounting for 3.0% of total retail trade, compared with 1.9% of total retail trade in May 2016. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce has increased by 21.8%, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 1.6%.

Source: Statistics Canada