Retail trade, April 2015

Following gains in February and March, retail sales edged down 0.1% in April to $42.5 billion. Lower sales at food and beverage stores as well as electronics and appliance stores offset higher sales in most other subsectors.

Sales were down in 4 of 11 subsectors, representing 43% of retail trade.

After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms were down 0.2%.

Sales at food and beverage stores were down 1.3% in April, the third decrease in four months. There was a 1.1% decline at supermarkets and other grocery stores. Following sales gains in February and March, receipts at beer, wine and liquor stores decreased 3.4% in April.

Store closures and the timing of new product releases contributed to an 8.8% sales drop at electronics and appliance stores.

Sales at gasoline stations decreased 0.5% in April. This was the 9th decline in 10 months, mainly reflecting lower prices at the pump.

For the third consecutive month, motor vehicle and parts dealers posted a sales gain, rising 1.3%. The main contributor to the increase was a 1.2% advance at new car dealers. Sales at used car dealers (+5.0%) rose for the sixth straight month, while sales at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+2.7%) advanced for the fourth month in a row. Sales at other motor vehicle dealers declined 2.2%.

Store types traditionally associated with housing purchases and home renovation showed continued growth in April. Receipts at furniture and home furnishings stores (+3.4%) rose for the third consecutive month. Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+0.8%) advanced for the fifth straight month.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+1.3%) rose for the fourth consecutive month. Higher receipts were posted at both clothing (+1.5%) and shoe (+3.1%) stores.

Sales down in five provinces

Retail sales declined in five provinces in April. Alberta (-1.2%) recorded the largest decline in dollar terms, following two consecutive monthly gains. The main contributors were lower sales at new car dealers and electronics and appliance stores.

Following gains in February and March, retail sales in Quebec decreased 0.4% in April, largely as a result of lower sales at electronics and appliances stores and supermarkets and other grocery stores.

Manitoba reported a 2.2% sales decrease, which more than offset gains made in the previous two months. Retail sales in this province have been on a downward trend after peaking in November 2014.

Following a peak in February, sales in British Columbia (-0.1%) edged down for the second consecutive month.

After eight consecutive monthly declines, sales in Nova Scotia rose 2.9% in April. This was mainly the result of higher sales at new car dealers.

Sales in Ontario (+0.2%) and Saskatchewan (+1.2%) increased for the third month in a row, with the largest gains at motor vehicle and parts dealers.

After four straight monthly declines, Newfoundland and Labrador posted a 1.7% sales gain in April.

It is possible to consult tables of unadjusted data by industry and by province and territory in the Summary tables module of our website.

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