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Retail trade, May 2013

Released: 2013-07-23

Retail sales rose 1.9% to $40.4 billion in May, the largest rate of growth since March 2010. This followed relatively flat sales the previous two months. The gains were widespread as higher sales were reported in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 94% of total retail trade.

In volume terms, sales were also up 1.9%, a third consecutive month of growth.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales rise in May - Description and data table
Retail sales rise in May

Chart 1: Retail sales rise in May - Description and data table

The largest sales increase in dollar terms among all subsectors was a 4.3% gain at motor vehicle and parts dealers. Sales were up at new car dealers (+3.3%) for a fifth consecutive month, mainly because of higher sales of light trucks. Higher sales at other motor vehicle dealers (+13.1%) more than offset the decline in April. Other motor vehicle dealers include retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats. Sales at used car dealers (+3.5%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+8.8%) were both up from April.

Sales at food and beverage stores rose 1.1%. Supermarkets and other grocery store sales increased 0.7% following declines in March and April. Beer, wine and liquor store sales increased 2.2%, following declines the three previous months. The gain coincided with a later start to the National Hockey League playoffs.

A later start to the spring planting season affected the sales of retailers that sell lawn and garden products. These types of products are mainly sold at building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3.7%) and general merchandise stores (+1.4%).

Lower sales at electronics and appliance stores (-0.8%) and miscellaneous store retailers (-0.5%) did not offset the sales gains in April.

Sales up in all provinces

Retail sales rose in every province in May. The largest gain in dollar terms occurred in Quebec, where sales increased 3.1% and more than offset the declines of the previous two months. Gains were widespread across subsectors.

Higher sales at new car dealers as well as beer, wine and liquor stores contributed to a 1.8% increase in sales at Ontario retailers.

Sales gains in Alberta (+1.6%) were led by higher sales at new car dealers and gas stations.

Retailers in Saskatchewan reported a 5.0% sales gain in May. Higher sales in April and May more than offset the sales declines of the previous four months. Retailers in this province were strongly affected by the delay in the start of the spring planting season.

Nova Scotia (+1.4%) reported a third consecutive monthly sales increase in May.

Sales in New Brunswick (+0.7%) were up for a fifth consecutive month.

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.

With this release, unadjusted and seasonally adjusted retail trade data in volume terms, including the chain Fisher volume index, were revised back to January 2004. Factors influencing this revision include updates to the commodity distribution of retail sales and seasonal factors.

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

Data on retail trade for June will be released on August 22.

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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