Stats Canada: Retail Sales Down in February

According to Statistics Canada, in February retail sales declined 0.6 percent to $47.8 billion, following a 2.3 percent increase in January. Sales were down in five of 11 subsectors, representing 67 percent of total retail sales.

Lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations were the main contributors to the decline. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.5 percent.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-1.8 percent) were down for the first time in seven months, largely reflecting weaker sales at new car (-1.7 percent) and other motor vehicle (-5.5 percent) dealers. Following gains in January, sales were 1.3 percent lower at used car dealers.

Gasoline stations (-3.6 percent) posted their first sales decline in three months, largely reflecting lower prices at the pump.

Following an increase in January, receipts at food and beverage stores decreased 0.4 percent in February. Lower sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (-1.7 percent) was the main contributor to the decline. Sales at specialty food stores (-0.6 percent) also declined, while supermarkets and other grocery stores sales were relatively unchanged from January.

Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-0.8 percent) posted their first decline in six months.

Receipts at electronics and appliance stores edged down 0.2 percent, following a 5.4 percent increase in January.

Sales at health and personal care stores (+2.0 percent) rose for the second month in a row.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores reported a 2.2 percent sales gain in February. Higher sales at clothing (+3.4 percent) and shoe (+2.0 percent) stores more than offset the 6.2 percent decline at jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores.

Sales Down in Eight Provinces
Retail sales were down in eight provinces in February.

Ontario (-0.6 percent) reported the largest decrease in dollar terms, led by lower sales at new car dealers.

In Nova Scotia (-4.5 percent), lower sales were reported at motor vehicle and parts dealers as well as building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers. Severe winter weather events were a factor.

Sales in Quebec were down 0.5 percent on lower sales at used car dealers and gasoline stations.

In Saskatchewan (+0.6 percent), retail sales advanced for the seventh consecutive month on higher sales at new and used car dealers.

Retail sales in New Brunswick (+0.3 percent) rose for the sixth time in seven months.

E-commerce Sales by Canadian Retailers
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were $939 million in February, accounting for 2.4 percent of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce increased 27.4 percent while total unadjusted retail sales rose 3.2 percent.