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Retail trade, May 2014

Released: 2014-07-23

Retail sales rose 0.7% to $42.0 billion in May. Gains were reported in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 56% of retail trade.

In volume terms, retail sales increased 0.4%.

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

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

Motor vehicle and parts dealers lead increase

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 2.5% in May, accounting for the largest gain among all subsectors. Building on a 3.5% increase in April, sales at new car dealers rose 2.3% in May. According to the New Motor Vehicle Sales Survey, a record 197,740 units were sold in May, mainly as a result of higher sales of light trucks. Higher sales at other motor vehicle dealers (+4.7%) largely offset declines in March and April. Other motor vehicle dealers include retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats. Sales at used car dealers (+3.0%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+1.7%) were both up in May.

Higher sales were reported at gasoline stations (+2.0%) for the seventh consecutive month.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers rose 3.5% following a delayed start to spring.

Growth in sales continued at furniture and home furnishings stores (+3.7%) in May. Sales at furniture stores (+4.2%) and home furnishing stores (+2.8%) both rose for the fourth time in five months.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music store sales grew 2.1%, their fourth consecutive monthly increase.

Food and beverage store sales decreased 1.6%, mainly reflecting lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-1.9%) and, to a lesser extent, beer, wine and liquor stores (-2.5%). Combined, these two store types more than offset gains at convenience stores (+2.3%) and specialty food stores (+0.4%).

Sales at health and personal care stores (-1.2%) declined for the first time in four months, mainly as a result of lower sales at pharmacies and drug stores.

General merchandise stores posted a 0.5% decrease in May, mainly due to lower sales at other general merchandise stores (-0.7%).

Following four consecutive monthly gains, sales at electronics and appliance stores declined 1.7%. May's decline more than offset gains in March and April.

Sales up in nine provinces

Retail sales were up in nine provinces in May. Higher sales in Ontario, Quebec and, to a lesser extent, New Brunswick, accounted for most of the increase.

Sales in Ontario (+0.7%) rose for the fourth time in five months. Gains were registered across most store types.

A 0.7% advance in Quebec was mainly attributable to higher sales at new car dealers.

Higher receipts were posted for the second consecutive month in New Brunswick, where sales rose 3.2% on the strength of higher sales at new car dealers.

On the Prairies, Alberta (+0.3%), Saskatchewan (+1.0%) and Manitoba (+0.7%) all posted increases. In Saskatchewan, retail sales rose for the fifth consecutive month.

Retail sales in British Columbia edged down 0.1% as a result of lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores.

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 data in this release are seasonally adjusted and in current dollars, unless otherwise noted. For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

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 May 2014 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; 514-283-8300;

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Kimberley Evans (613-951-0502;, Retail and Service Industries Division.

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