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Retail trade, April 2013

Released: 2013-06-21

Retail sales edged up 0.1% to $39.5 billion in April, following flat sales in March. Stronger sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were offset by weaker sales at gasoline stations.

In volume terms, retail sales increased 0.5%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales edge up in April - Description and data table
Retail sales edge up in April

Chart 1: Retail sales edge up in April - Description and data table

Higher sales were reported in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 51% of total retail sales.

The largest sales increase in dollar terms among all subsectors was a 1.4% advance at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Higher sales at new car dealers (+2.2%), particularly truck sales, led the gain. This was the fourth consecutive monthly increase in sales at new car dealers. Used car dealers reported a third straight monthly sales decline, falling 0.9%. Other motor vehicle dealers (-4.7%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (-1.3%) were both down from the previous month.

Receipts at general merchandise stores rose 0.7%, as a result of higher sales at "other general merchandise stores" (+1.9%). Department store sales were down 0.8% from March, declining for the second consecutive month.

Electronics and appliance stores posted a 2.1% gain, the third increase in four months following a downward trend in 2012.

Gasoline station sales fell 2.9% in April, mainly reflecting lower prices at the pump.

The 1.9% decline in sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores did not offset the sales gain in March. Lower sales at clothing stores (-2.6%) accounted for most of the decline.

Lower receipts at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-1.0%) more than offset gains made in February and March. Sales in this subsector have been relatively flat since the middle of 2012.

Sales up in seven provinces

Retail sales rose in seven provinces in April. Alberta (+1.7%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, on the strength of new and used car sales.

Following four straight monthly declines, sales in Saskatchewan grew 1.8%.

The 0.6% sales gain in Manitoba did not offset the decline in March.

Sales in all four Atlantic provinces were up in April, led by a 2.3% gain in Nova Scotia.

The largest decline in dollar terms occurred in Quebec (-0.7%), where sales fell for a second month in a row, with widespread decreases across store types.

After rising for three straight months, sales in Ontario declined 0.4%.

The 0.7% sales decrease in British Columbia did not offset the gain in March. Sales in this province have been relatively flat since the middle of 2012.

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

Data on retail trade for May will be released on July 23.

Contact information

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.

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