Retail trade, November 2012

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Retail sales edged up 0.2% to $39.4 billion in November, a fifth consecutive monthly sales gain. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers as well as electronics and appliance stores more than offset declines at most store types.

In volume terms, retail sales rose 0.8%.

Chart 1 
Retail sales increase in November
Chart 1: Retail sales increase in November

Chart description: Retail sales increase in November

CSV version of chart 1

Gains were reported in 4 of 11 subsectors, representing 32% of retail trade.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 1.8% in November. New car dealers (+1.6%) led the increase, rising for a sixth straight month. Gains were also reported in the "other motor vehicle dealers" industry (+3.9%) and used car dealers (+3.9%). Automotive parts, accessories and tire stores declined 0.6%, partially offsetting the gain in October.

Sales advanced at electronics and appliance stores for the third time in four months, rising 8.9%. Sales in this subsector can be affected by the timing of new product releases. Despite recent gains, sales in this industry for the first 11 months of 2012 were 5.1% lower than the same period in 2011.

Following three consecutive monthly declines, furniture and home furnishings stores reported a 3.9% sales gain in November. This increase came from higher sales at furniture stores (+3.5%) and home furnishings stores (+4.6%).

Gasoline station sales declined 2.3% in November, mainly reflecting lower prices at the pump.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.4%) decreased for the fourth month in a row.

Food and beverage store sales decreased 0.3% in November, after advancing for three straight months. This decline reflected lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.4%) and at convenience stores (-3.5%). Gains were reported at beer, wine and liquor stores (+0.5%) and speciality food stores (+1.1%).

General merchandise store sales declined 0.6%. Receipts at department stores fell 0.7%, a third consecutive monthly decline. Sales at "other general merchandise stores" decreased 0.5%.

Sales up in six provinces

Retail sales rose in six provinces in November. Ontario (+0.4%) reported the largest gain in dollar terms, in part a result of higher sales at new car dealers. This was the third rise in sales in Ontario in four months.

Nova Scotia retail sales advanced 1.2% in November, more than offsetting sales declines in September and October.

Retail receipts in British Columbia (+0.3%) and Saskatchewan (+0.3%) increased following flat sales in October.

Sales in Alberta were relatively flat after four consecutive monthly increases.

Following a 1.5% gain in October, sales in Quebec edged down 0.1% in November.

New Brunswick (-0.4%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-0.4%) both reported a second decline in three months.

Note to readers

All the data in this release are seasonally adjusted and in current dollars, unless otherwise noted. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

Total retail sales expressed in volume are calculated by deflating current dollar values using consumer price indexes. The retail sales series in chained (2007) dollars is a chained Fisher volume index with 2007 as the reference year. For more information, see Calculation of Volume of Retail Trade Sales. In November 2012, the Consumer Price Index changed the timing for the introduction of new model year vehicles into the purchase of passenger vehicles index.

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

For information on related indicators, refer to the Latest statistics page on our website.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table080-0020 and CANSIM table080-0024.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers survey number2406 and survey number2408.

The November 2012 issue of Retail Trade (Catalogue number63-005-X, free) will soon be available.

Data on retail trade for December will be released on February 22.

For more information or to order data, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136;

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Ashley Ker (613-951-2252;, Distributive Trades Division.