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Retail trade

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October 2008 (Previous release)

Retail sales totalled $35.9 billion in October. Price reductions were a key factor in the 0.9% drop from September. Overall, six of the eight retail sales sectors posted declines.

If price changes are factored in, retail sales in terms of volume were up 0.1%. The difference between the value and volume of sales was attributable to prices decreases for gas, passenger vehicles, women's clothing and furniture, based on the Consumer Price Index.

Chart 1
Retail sales decrease in October

The sharpest decline in October was a 2.1% drop in sales by furniture, home furnishings and electronics stores, which posted its third decline in a row. The key contributor was furniture stores, whose 4.5% drop in sales was mainly influenced by a decrease in the price of furniture.

Sales in the automotive sector recorded a 1.5% decline in October, mainly attributable to a 4.0% drop in sales by gasoline stations, their strongest decline since August 2007. The decrease in sales by new car dealers only partly offset the sales gains posted in September. Sales increased for a third consecutive month for used and recreational motor vehicle and parts dealers (including tire dealers).

Sales by clothing and accessories, and general merchandise stores also fell by at least 1.0% in October. Despite these declines, sales in the general merchandise stores sector continued to follow an upward trend, while sales in clothing and accessories stores have remained relatively stable throughout 2008.

Sales rose 0.6% in the pharmacies and personal care stores sector in October, while they remained essentially unchanged in the food and beverage stores sector (+0.1%).

The Prairie provinces buck the trend

Retail sales fell in six provinces in October. The sharpest decline was in Nova Scotia (-2.9%), offsetting the rise posted in September.


Note to readers

Total retail sales by volume are measured by deflating values in current dollars of the various trade groups using consumer price indexes. This retail sales in chained dollars series (2002) is a chain Fisher volume index with 2002 as the reference year.


Sales decreased by 2.0% in Quebec and British Columbia. The decline in Quebec offset most of the rise posted in September. In British Columbia, sales reached their lowest level since April 2007, after increasing in September.

Ontario retailers posted their sharpest drop in sales since February 2008, with a decline of 0.5% in October. Sales in Ontario had remained relatively stable since the spring of 2008.

Sales in the three Prairie provinces rose in October. Sales advanced 1.5% in Saskatchewan, heavily influenced by a rise in new motor vehicle sales. Sales in Alberta increased for a third consecutive month, after being relatively stable since the second half of 2007.

Table 1
Retail sales

It is now possible to consult the tables of unadjusted data by industry and by province and territory from the By subject module of our website.

For information on related indicators, consult the Latest statistics page of our website.

Available on CANSIM: tables 080-0014 to 080-0017.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 2406 and 2408.

The October 2008 issue of the publication Retail Trade (63-005-XWE, free) will be available shortly.

Data on retail trade for November will be released on January 22, 2009.

For more information, or to order data, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-877-421-3067; 613-951-3549; retailinfo@statcan.gc.ca). For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Claude Bilodeau (613-951-1816), Distributive Trades Division.