Canada's retail sales up 0.7% to C$58.1B in November led by higher sales at gasoline stations, building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, food and beverages stores; sales up in 6 of 11 subsectors, 63.8% of retail trade: Statistics Canada

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OTTAWA , January 21, 2022 (press release) –

Retail sales were up 0.7% to $58.1 billion in November. The increase was led by higher sales at gasoline stations (+4.9%), building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.0%) and food and beverage stores (+1.0%).

Sales increased in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 63.8% of retail trade.

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

In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.2% in November.

In November, severe flooding in British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces damaged infrastructure and led to evacuations in affected regions, resulting in major disruptions to the business operations of retailers across the country. Based on respondent feedback, 21% of retailers were impacted by the floods and evacuations in British Columbia and the Atlantic provinces, with 16% of retailers reporting a disruption in transportation as the most impacted business operation.

Given the rapidly evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales decreased 2.1% in December. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 50.6% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 90.0%.

Chart 1: Retail sales increase in November

Higher sales at gasoline stations lead increase in retail sales
Sales at gasoline stations were up 4.9% in November, the strongest pace of growth observed in this subsector in five months. In volume terms, sales were up 3.5%.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers decreased 0.3% in November. Lower sales were observed at other motor vehicle dealers (-4.9%) and used car dealers (-1.3%), which fell for the first time in six months. Sales at new car dealers edged up 0.1% in November.

Core retail sales increase on higher sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers and food and beverage stores
Core retail sales were up 0.5% in November. Leading the increase were higher sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.0%). While sales in this subsector have increased for four consecutive months, they have not reached the highs recorded in March 2021 and are similar to the level recorded one year prior, in November 2020.

Higher sales were recorded at food and beverage stores (+1.0%) in November 2021. The increase was led by receipts at supermarkets and other grocery stores (+1.6%) and to a lesser extent, beer, wine and liquor stores (+0.4%).

Also contributing to the increase in retail sales was clothing and clothing accessories stores (+3.0%). Higher sales at clothing stores (+3.1%), which were up for the second month in a row, led the gain and more than offset the decline at shoe stores (-0.4%). Sales at jewellery, luggage, and leather goods stores (+5.7%) rose after decreasing in October.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-10.0%) posted the largest decline in retail sales. The decline followed strong growth in October when higher sales of sporting and leisure products were recorded.

Chart 2: Sales increase in 6 of 11 subsectors in November

Sales up in seven provinces
Retail sales were up in seven provinces in November, led by higher sales in Quebec (+1.2%). In the census metropolitan area of Montréal, sales were up 0.9%.

On the heels of strong growth in October (+2.4%), retail sales in Ontario were up 0.5% in November. Contributing to this increase were higher sales at gasoline stations, and at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers.

Sales in British Columbia were up 0.8% in November amid flooding and landslides that impacted the province. Leading the increase were higher sales at gasoline stations and at food and beverage stores.

Retail e-commerce in Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales fell 3.5% in November.

On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 1.1% year over year to $4.3 billion in November, accounting for 6.9% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 0.4 percentage points compared with November 2020, coinciding with limited Cyber Monday sales at retailers amid supply chain constraints in November 2021.

Note to readers
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 product 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 exactly 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 since there is no seasonal pattern 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.

Statistics Canada's retail e-commerce figures include the electronic sales of two distinct types of retailers. The first type does not have a storefront. These businesses are commonly referred to as pure-play Internet retailers and are classified under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 45411—electronic shopping and mail-order houses. The second type has a storefront and is commonly referred to as a brick-and-mortar retailer. If the online operations of a brick-and-mortar retailer are separately managed, they, too, are classified under NAICS code 45411.

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

For more information on retail e-commerce in Canada, see "Retail E-Commerce in Canada."

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

Find more statistics on retail trade.

Real-time tables
Real-time tables 20-10-0054-01 and 20-10-0079-01 will be updated soon.

Next release
Data on retail trade for December 2021 will be released on February 18, 2022.

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; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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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