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Retail trade, January 2013

Released: 2013-03-21

Retail sales rose 1.0% to $38.9 billion in January, partially offsetting the decline in December. Gains were reported in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 52% of total retail trade. The increase was led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

After removing the effects of price changes, particularly higher prices at new car dealers, retail sales in volume terms were flat.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales increase in January - Description and data table
Retail sales increase in January

Chart 1: Retail sales increase in January - Description and data table

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 2.8% in January, partially offsetting the 6.5% decline in December. Higher receipts at new car dealers (+2.4%) accounted for most of this gain. Used car dealers (+5.3%) reported higher sales for a third straight month.

General merchandise stores reported a 2.8% increase. Department stores sales advanced 11.5%. Despite this gain, sales in this store type have been on a downward trend since the middle of 2012. Sales at other general merchandise stores declined 3.5%.

Miscellaneous store retailers reported a 9.4% gain in January, the fourth increase in five months. Stores in this subsector include office supplies and stationery stores, gift stores and pet supplies stores.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores rose 1.2%, a second consecutive monthly gain. Higher sales at clothing stores led the gain, rising 1.7%. Shoe stores (-0.5%) and jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (-0.3%) reported sales declines in January.

Following double-digit fluctuations in November and December, sales at electronics and appliance stores rose 2.3% in January.

The largest decline occurred at gasoline stations (-1.4%), where sales decreased for a third consecutive month.

Food and beverage store sales decreased 0.4%, mainly reflecting lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.8%). Following eight straight monthly gains, sales at speciality food stores declined 2.8% in January. Beer, wine and liquor store sales increased 2.2%, more than offsetting the decline in December. This gain coincided with the resumption of the National Hockey League season.

Quebec leads sales gains

Retail sales rose in six provinces in January. Quebec (+2.1%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, in part a result of higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Following two consecutive monthly declines, retailers in Alberta registered a 1.3% sales gain.

The 0.5% rise in sales in Ontario did not offset the decrease in December.

British Columbia retail sales advanced 1.0%, nearly offsetting the decline in December. Sales in this province have been relatively flat since the middle of 2012.

The largest decline in dollar terms occurred in Nova Scotia (-0.3%).

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.


  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.

The January 2013 issue of Retail Trade (Catalogue number63-005-X) will soon be available.

Data on retail trade for February will be released on April 23.

Contact information

For more information or to order data, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

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

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