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Retail trade, January 2015

Released: 2015-03-20

Retail sales decreased for the second consecutive month in January, declining 1.7% to $41.4 billion. Sales were lower in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 83% of retail trade.

Lower sales at gasoline stations represented the majority of the decline. Excluding sales at gasoline stations, retail sales were down 0.8%.

Retail sales in volume terms decreased 1.2%.

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

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

Gasoline station sales down seven months in a row

Sales at gasoline stations fell 8.8% in January, reflecting lower prices at the pump. This was the seventh straight monthly decrease and the largest monthly decline since November 2008.

Receipts at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-1.4%) decreased for the fourth consecutive month. The overall subsector decline was a result of weaker sales at new car dealers (-1.8%). Used car dealers (-0.9%) and other motor vehicle dealers (-0.5%) also registered declines. Sales at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+2.2%) advanced for the fourth time in five months.

Following a 1.5% increase in December, receipts at food and beverage stores decreased 1.2% in January. Lower sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (-4.1%) and specialty food stores (-6.7%) largely offset gains in December. Sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores edged down 0.1%. Sales at convenience stores were relatively unchanged from December.

General merchandise store sales were down 1.1% in January. Lower sales at other general merchandise stores (-3.0%) more than offset higher sales at department stores (+1.4%).

Furniture and home furnishings stores decreased 2.1% in January, the third decline in four months.

The largest increase in dollar terms was reported at electronics and appliance stores (+3.8%), partially offsetting the sales drop seen in this subsector in December.

Receipts at clothing and clothing accessories stores increased 1.5%, largely on the strength of higher sales at clothing stores (+1.7%).

Sales down in nine provinces

Retail sales were down in nine provinces in January. Lower sales in Quebec, Ontario and Alberta accounted for most of the decrease.

Quebec (-2.4%) reported the largest decrease in dollar terms, with widespread declines across most store types.

The decline in Ontario (-1.4%) was mainly attributable to lower sales at gasoline stations.

Retail sales in Alberta (-2.8%) declined for the fourth consecutive month in January, reaching their lowest level since December 2013. The decline was largely a result of lower sales at gasoline stations and new car dealers.

Receipts in Nova Scotia fell to their lowest level since March 2013, decreasing for the sixth consecutive month.

Prince Edward Island (+0.5%) was the only province to register an increase in January.

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 January 2015 issue of Retail Trade (Catalogue number63-005-X) will soon be available.

Data on retail trade for February will be released on April 17.

Contact information

For more information, or to order data, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

For analytical information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Jason Aston (613-951-0746; jason.aston@statcan.gc.ca), Retail and Service Industries Division.

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