Home News Retail sales in Canada increased 1.4% to $66.4 billion in January; increase was led...

Retail sales in Canada increased 1.4% to $66.4 billion in January; increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers

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Retail sales increased 1.4% to $66.4 billion in January. Sales increased in seven of nine subsectors, representing 88.7% of retail trade. The increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+3.0%) and gasoline stations and fuel vendors (+2.9%).

Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and fuel vendors and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 0.5% in January.

In volume terms, retail sales increased 1.5% in January.

As of the January 2023 reference period, Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) figures are now based on the 2022 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS 2022) classification structure. This new classification structure has, in effect, broadened the scope of the MRTS. While the seasonal variation for many subsectors and store types is relatively unchanged, new sales level estimates reflect the inclusion of this new wider scope of retailers.

Given the continually evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales decreased 0.6% in February. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 51.0% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 89.9%.

Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers drive retail sales

Sales were up 3.0% at motor vehicle and parts dealers in January, a sixth consecutive monthly increase. The gain was led by higher sales at new car dealers (+3.0%), which posted its second largest increase since May 2022. Also contributing to the gain in January 2023 were higher sales at other motor vehicle dealers (+8.9%) and used car dealers (+0.7%).

Following the decline in December—the largest since July 2022—sales at gasoline stations and fuel vendors increased 2.9% in January 2023. In volume terms, sales at gasoline stations and fuel vendors decreased 0.6%. Gasoline prices rose 4.7% on an unadjusted basis in January, largely related to refinery closures in the southwestern United States following winter storm Elliott.

Core retail sales rise on strength from food and beverage retailers

Core retail sales rose 0.5% in January, with food and beverage retailers leading the increase. Sales were up in three of four store types, namely at beer, wine and liquor retailers (+2.3%), convenience retailers and vending machine operators (+6.0%) and specialty food retailers (+3.3%). The Consumer Price Index noted prices for food purchased from stores were up 10.4% on a year-over-year basis in January.

Also contributing to the increase in core retail sales in January were higher sales at clothing, clothing accessories, shoes, jewellery, luggage and leather goods retailers (+1.8%). The increase was led by higher sales at clothing and clothing accessories retailers (+2.2%), the latter recording the largest increase since February 2022.

Sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, book, and miscellaneous retailers (-1.2%) posted the largest decline to core retail sales in January 2023. Sales have declined in this subsector for five of the seven months preceding January.

Sales up in all provinces

Retail sales increased in all provinces in January. The largest provincial increase was observed in Alberta (+2.9%), led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

In Ontario, retail sales increased 0.7% in January and were led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers as well as food and beverage retailers.

In January, retail sales were up 1.8% in British Columbia and were also led by motor vehicle and parts dealers. In the Vancouver census metropolitan area, sales were up 3.4%.

Retail e-commerce sales in Canada

On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 0.1% to $3.3 billion in January, accounting for 5.0% of total retail trade compared with 5.1% in December.


Source: Statistics Canada
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