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Retail trade, August 2014

Released: 2014-10-22

Retail sales declined 0.3% in August to $42.4 billion. This second consecutive monthly decrease follows gains in the six previous months. Sales were down in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 76% of retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, particularly lower gasoline prices, retail sales in volume terms edged down 0.1%.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Retail sales decline in August - Description and data table
Retail sales decline in August

Chart 1: Retail sales decline in August - Description and data table

Lower sales at gasoline stations

Sales at gasoline stations declined 2.1% in August to their lowest level since late 2013, mainly reflecting lower prices at the pump. According to the Consumer Price Index, seasonally unadjusted gasoline prices declined 3.2% in August compared with July.

Following four consecutive monthly increases, sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers decreased 1.8% in August.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers were down 0.4% in August, giving back some of July's gains. The overall subsector decline was due in large part to weaker sales at new car dealers (-0.6%) and, to a much lesser extent, automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (-0.6%). Higher sales were reported at other motor vehicle dealers (+1.8%) and used car dealers (+0.8%).

Sales at food and beverage stores declined 0.4%. Supermarkets and other grocery stores sales decreased 0.4% in August, while sales at beer, wine and liquor stores were down 0.7%. Lower sales were reported at specialty food stores (-0.5%) for the fourth consecutive month.

Receipts at furniture and home furnishings stores (-1.8%) declined for the second time in three months, largely as a result of lower sales at home furnishings stores (-5.0%).

After six months of growth, sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores declined 0.2%.

Back-to-school sales

Store types traditionally associated with back-to-school sales advanced in August.

Sales at general merchandise stores rose 1.8%, with increases at both other general merchandise stores (+2.4%) and department stores (+1.0%).

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+1.1%) rose for the fourth time in five months. Higher receipts were posted at both clothing stores (+1.2%) and shoe stores (+1.9%).

Sales at electronics and appliance stores (+1.1%) increased for the second consecutive month.

Sales down in six provinces

Retail sales were down in six provinces in August. Lower sales in Ontario and, to a lesser extent, Alberta accounted for most of the decrease.

Lower sales in Ontario (-0.5%), Alberta (-0.5%), Nova Scotia (-1.5%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (-2.1%) came after three or more months of advances.

The largest increase in dollar terms was registered in British Columbia, where retail sales rose 0.4%.

Sales in New Brunswick (+0.1%) rose for the 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 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 August 2014 issue of Retail Trade (Catalogue number63-005-X) will soon be available.

Data on retail trade for September will be released on November 25.

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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