Sales in the retail trade sector edged down 0.1% in August to $51.5 billion. Sales were down in six subsectors, representing 51% of retail trade. After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 0.2%.

Sales at food and beverage stores down for the first time in three months

Sales at food and beverage stores declined 0.8% in August. Decreases were reported at three out of four store types within the subsector, only specialty food stores saw an increase in August (+2.3%). 

Lower sales were reported at gasoline stations (-0.4%) for the second time in the last three months as a result of lower prices at the pump. In volume terms, gasoline sales were up 2.8%.

After increasing 5.0% in June, sales were down at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-0.5%) for the second month in a row. Despite this decline, sales remain above the level observed in May.

Sales at both general merchandise stores (+0.8%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (+0.1%) were up in August. 

Sales down in four provinces and all census metropolitan areas

After increasing 1.3% in July, retail sales in Ontario dipped 0.8% in August. Declines were reported in 8 of 11 subsectors, led by lower sales at food and beverage stores. Sales in the census metropolitan area of Toronto were down 1.5%. 

In Manitoba (-1.6%) retail sales were down for the first time in three months from lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Retail sales rebounded in British Columbia (+0.8%) due to higher sales at food and beverage stores and at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Retail sales also rebounded in New Brunswick (+3.8%), due to higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers

On an not seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were $1.8 billion in  August, accounting for 3.2% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 25.0%, while total unadjusted retail sales were up 1.5%. 

Source: Statistics Canada