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Retail Fast FactsView the latest national monthly sales by category in RCC's Retail Fast Facts.

View Retail Fast Facts: November 2016

National Seasonally Adjusted total monthly retail sales (less Autos & Gas) for September 2016 increased 3.0 per cent over the comparable month last year, and decreased 0.2 per cent versus the prior month.

Retail Council of Canada commentary:

The Regional Story 

  • After a small decline in each of July (-0.1%) and August (-0.1%) Canadian retail sales rose by 0.6% in September. Year-over-year sales are up by 2.5% since September 2015 (p.3).
  • Ontario sales were up 0.4% on a month-to-month basis, lagging the national average but considerably improved from the decline of -0.7% experienced in July (p.3). By contrast, Quebec saw a robust 0.9% growth over August’s numbers and its growth has now outstripped Ontario’s for four consecutive months (p.3 and p.12).
  • British Columbia remains significantly stronger than the other large provinces. On a year-over-year basis, BC is a standout with growth of 5.7% (p.3). 
  • Month-over-month increases in New Brunswick (+1.7%) and Newfoundland (+1.5%) follow on very weak summers in those two provinces and September’s far better numbers may indicate a return to growth in retail following a period in which government messages of fiscal restraint appeared to have seriously dampened consumer spending (p.3).
  • Even Alberta showed some modest growth in September (+0.3%). And while Saskatchewan was down slightly (-0.3%) and Manitoba more sharply (-0.8%) after a strong August in Manitoba’s case, all three prairie provinces now show year-over-year growth when sales of cars and gasoline are excluded (p.3 and p.12).

The Sectoral Story 

  • As with other recent Recent Fast Fact releases, the picture varies depending on whether sales of cars, gasoline and car parts are included in the total. Together, these make up about one-third of total retail sales. The volatile price of gasoline and the level of car sales has a major impact on the overall picture for retail.
  • Broader patterns in retail are considerably more positive.  On a year-over-year basis, sales excluding cars and gas grew 3.0% versus 1.5% growth in cars and gas (p.6).
  • The strong growth performance year-over-year in building materials (+6.5%), health and personal care stores (+7.7%) and especially shoe stores (+11.3%) are the annual stories of note. (p.6). On a monthly basis, jewellery, luggage and leather performed strongly (+0.8%).
  • On cross-border shopping, same-day car trips by Canadians to the U.S. were up 1.4% or 26 thousand trips for September 2016 over September 2015, while inbound trips from U.S. visitors increased by 5.1% or 36 thousand trips, reflecting the prevailing strength of the U.S. dollar (p.22).

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