Canada's retail sales reached C$66.4B in January, up 1.4% month-over-month and 5.0% year-over-year; largest contribution to monthly increase came from higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, up 3.0% from December: Statistics Canada

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March 24, 2023 (press release) –

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%.

Chart 1: Retail sales increase in January

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.

Chart 2: Sales increase in seven of nine subsectors in 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.

Note to readers
As of the January 2023 reference period, Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS) figures are now based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 2022 classification structure. This new classification structure has, in effect, broadened the scope of the MRTS results.

Table 20-10-0008 has been archived. Seasonally adjusted estimates in NAICS 2022 are now available in table 20-10-0056 starting in 2017. Unadjusted estimates starting in 2017 are now available in table 20-10-0056.

Table 20-10-0078 has also been archived. Volume estimates and indices in NAICS 2022 starting in 2017 are now available in table 20-10-0067.

Seasonal adjustment specifications and factors were reviewed and updated based on the NAICS 2022 classification structure. Regular annual revisions from 2022 were also included in the new data series. The data have been revised using historical linkage factors designed to preserve the continuity of the time series. This linkage method leads to larger revisions for more recent periods.

The overarching theme of the update is the digital economy. Online-only retailers are now classified in the same industrial groupings as their non-digital counterparts. This means that some industries have been reclassified to reflect both physical and online-only retailers, creating a change in how some industry groups are measured and a shift in some of the time series. In other cases, industries with the same definition will have different categorization numbers due to the overall changes to the classification.

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted and expressed in current dollars, unless otherwise noted.

Seasonally adjusted data are data that have been modified to eliminate the effect of seasonal and calendar influences to allow for more meaningful comparisons of economic conditions from period to period. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

The percentage change for the advance estimate of retail sales is calculated using seasonally adjusted data and is expressed in current dollars.

This early indicator is a special unofficial estimate being provided in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to offer Canadians timely information on the retail sector. The data sources and methodology used are the same as those outlined on the Monthly Retail Trade Survey information page.

Trend-cycle estimates are included in selected charts as a complement to the seasonally adjusted series. These data represent a smoothed version of the seasonally adjusted time series and provide information on longer-term movements, including changes in direction underlying the series. For information on trend-cycle data, see Trend-cycle estimates – Frequently asked questions.

Both seasonally adjusted data and trend-cycle estimates are subject to revision as additional observations become available. These revisions could be extensive and could even lead to a reversal of movement, especially for the reference months near the end of the series or during periods of economic disruption.

Seasonally adjusted estimates for cannabis store retailers are presented in unadjusted form, as no seasonal pattern has been established by official statistics yet. Establishing such a pattern requires several months of observed data. In the interim, the seasonally adjusted estimates for cannabis store retailers will be identical to the unadjusted figures.

Some common e-commerce transactions, such as travel and accommodation bookings, ticket purchases and financial transactions, are not included in Canadian retail sales figures.

Total retail sales expressed in volume terms are calculated by deflating current-dollar values using consumer price indexes.

Find more statistics on retail trade.

Next release
Data on retail trade for February will be released on April 21.

Contact information
For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (

Industry Intelligence Editor's Note: This press release omits select charts and/or marketing language for editorial clarity. Click here to view the full report.

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