Canadian retail sales rise 0.8% in February from January to C$39.5B, their second straight monthly gain; higher sales reported in seven of 11 subsectors: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA , April 23, 2013 (press release) – Retail sales rose 0.8% to $39.5 billion in February, a second consecutive monthly sales gain. Higher sales were reported in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 82% of total retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, particularly higher gasoline prices, retail sales in volume terms were flat.

Chart 1 
Retail sales increase in February
Chart 1: Retail sales increase in February

The largest advance in dollar terms among all subsectors was a 2.8% rise at general merchandise stores. Higher sales in the "other general merchandise stores" industry accounted for most of the gain, increasing 4.4% in February. Department store sales rose 0.8%.

Following three straight monthly declines, sales at gasoline stations increased 1.9% as a result of higher prices at the pump.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose for a second month in a row, up 1.0% in February. Sales gains at new car dealers (+2.0%) more than offset declines at "other motor vehicle dealers" (-7.3%) and used car dealers (-2.3%).

Following flat sales in January, electronics and appliance stores reported a 1.3% sales gain in February. Despite this gain, sales in this subsector have been on a downward trend since the beginning of 2012.

Food and beverage store sales edged up 0.1%. A 0.3% increase at supermarkets and other grocery stores was partially offset by a 0.6% decline at beer, wine and liquor stores.

The 2.5% decline in receipts at furniture and home furnishings stores did not offset the sales gain in January. Lower sales at furniture stores (-2.9%) was the main contributor to the decline.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores reported a 0.6% decrease in February. Following two consecutive monthly gains, receipts at clothing stores declined 0.8%. This was partially offset by a third straight monthly sales gain at shoe stores (+2.4%).

Sales up in eight provinces

Retail sales rose in eight provinces in February. Alberta (+2.2%) reported the largest gain in dollar terms. This was the third rise in sales in Alberta in four months.

Receipts in Ontario (+0.7%) and Quebec (+0.7%) increased for a second consecutive month.

Manitoba retail sales advanced 2.0% in February, more than offsetting declines in December and January.

The 0.3% sales decrease in British Columbia partially offset the gain in January. Sales in this province have been relatively flat since the middle of 2012.

For a third straight month, retailers in Nova Scotia (-0.6%) reported sales declines.

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