Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.7% in January, following 0.1% growth in December. This ninth consecutive monthly increase continued to offset the steepest drops on record in Canadian economic activity observed in March and April 2020. However, total economic activity was about 3% below the February level before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Retail trade contracts
Retail trade was down for the third time in four months, decreasing 1.7% in January, as 9 of 12 subsectors declined. The stay-at-home orders, curfews and other measures reintroduced across many parts of the country to slow the spread of COVID-19 contributed to the decrease. Stores more dependent on in-store traffic felt the largest impact of these measures.
Clothing and clothing accessories stores (-17.0%) and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-14.1%) saw a second consecutive month of double-digit declines, while activity at furniture and home furnishings stores also fell 12.8% in January. General merchandise stores grew 3.3%, while building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers were up 3.6%, benefiting from continued growth in home renovation and improvement activity. Non-store retailers were up for the third month in a row, rising 2.8% in January.