Resources for Retailers

Why Retail Matters

As the largest private sector employer in Canada, retail drives our economic growth.

There are stores in every community across Canada. Retail is the critical link in the supply chain – it connects producers to households.

The median number of retail jobs per riding is 6,342 (source: 2016 Census). Retail represents 11.6% of the total jobs in an average riding. There are more jobs in retail in Canada than there are in mining, agriculture, finance, oil and gas extraction, and the Arts, combined.

Here are some ideas to share with candidates while spreading the word about retail:

  • Retail is Canada’s largest employer; it employs more than 2.1 million Canadians.
  • More than one in ten jobs in Canada is in retail.
  • 66.6% of the jobs in retail are full-time. The average compensation per hour for retail employees in Canada was $23.14/hour in 2017.
  • For every single retail job, an additional four more jobs are created.
  • There are more than 145,200 retail establishments in Canada.

Investment in the retail sector is an important driver of Canada’s economy. In 2016, the retail sector invested $9.07 billion in capital across the country.

  • Spending on new fixed structures, such as stores, totaled just short of $3.4 Billion
  • Capital spending on new machinery and equipment within retail was over $3.0 Billion
  • Total expenditures by retailers to repair and maintain existing construction, machinery and equipment totaled $2.5 Billion

Retailers are an important final step of the supply chain, adding $98 billion dollars in value-add to the Canadian economy each year (measured in chained 2007 dollars).

There is a fixed election date for the upcoming Federal Election. Unless the government unexpectedly falls, election day will be October 21, 2019. Every election provides Canadians with the ability to help ensure that future members of the Legislative Assembly understand the role merchants play in the lives of Canadians and the economy.

When your local candidates knock on your door or you meet them at an event, take time to share your experiences and your pride for Canada’s retail industry.

Be sure to let them know that you’re part of Canada’s largest private employment sector, and that retail offers paths for Canadians to gain experience and have dynamic, productive careers.

Key Retail Issues

Eliminate tariffs on clothing and textiles

Each year, Canadians are paying around $2 billion in hidden taxes. Among the worst offenders of these embedded taxes on consumers are tariffs on apparel, which are either 17% or 18%.

Historically, tariffs were used as a method for protecting domestic industries from out-of-country competition. While 20 years ago, about 70% of the textile and clothing products used by Canadians were manufactured domestically, that number is now only 4.4%. Since these tariffs are remnants of an outdated system that was designed to protect an industry that has moved off shore, those tariffs now act only as a hidden tax to consumers.

person browsing through clothing

We are asking the federal government to:

  • Eliminate the Customs Tariff Schedule for items in Chapter 61 and Chapter 62.
  • Undertake a review of tariffs to understand what is actually needed to protect Canadian businesses, and what is now just a system legacy, with an eye to eliminating extra tariffs.


Reduce credit interchange fees

credit card

Approximately 1.5% of Canadian credit card spending goes directly to the big credit card companies and their issuing banks. For some products, this amount can actually reduce a retailer’s profit margin to zero.

RCC has long fought for lower credit card interchange rates, securing a victory in 2015 with a reduction of the average rate from 1.65% down to 1.50%. Further success has been achieved with a commitment from Visa and MasterCard to lower their average rates from 1.50% to 1.40% in 2020. Altogether, the reduction efforts achieved by RCC will save merchants over $1 billion annually.

Despite these wins, Canadians still pay among the highest interchange fees in the world, and Canada is one of the few industrialized countries that does not regulate these fees.

We are asking the federal government to:

  • Lower Canada’s interchange fees to align Canada with other international jurisdictions and ensure that network fees are not raised.
  • Reduce the fees charged for online transactions, which are currently treated as “card not present.” These fees cost retailers significantly more even though online transactions are generally more secure than phoned-in transactions.


Continue participation in Canada–U.S. International Regulatory Cooperation

Since 2012, RCC has been a significant contributor to the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council which focuses on harmonizing regulations between the U.S. and Canada. Having multiple sets of regulations to follow increases product costs for consumers. The CRCC has had limited success resolving existing regulatory discrepancies such as child car seats, but continued participation in the CRCC allows for the opportunity to influence new regulatory proposals. For example, RCC secured mutual recognition of U.S. and Canadian food safety standards under the new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations which will facilitate trade and reduce administrative burden for food products being imported from the U.S.

man in front of grocery scale

We are asking the federal government to:

  • Continue to participate in the Regulatory Cooperation Council, further harmonizing regulations between Canada and the U.S.
  • Commit to joint North American standards on all regulatory proposals moving forward.


Revisit the Visitor Rebate Program

tourist opening wallet

By cancelling the Visitor Rebate Program, tourism GDP was reduced by nearly $6 billion dollars over the past ten years. While this policy decision was made with a goal to save money, the losses in revenue have been greater than the annual administrative savings as a result of the cancellation.

We are asking the federal government to:

  • Revisit the decision to cancel the visitor’s rebate and commit to the program’s re-instatement in the National Tourism Strategy.
  • Study the international jurisdictions that have successfully implemented Visitor Rebate Programs – specifically Japan.


Level the playing field on cross-border shopping fees

Retail Council of Canada was active in conversations with the Federal government throughout the negotiations of the new USMCA trade agreement and is pleased that the deal protected Canadian retailers from most of the unreasonable demands initially made by the U.S. – such as the initially proposed $800 threshold for duties. The Canadian team successfully negotiated a deal to cap the sales tax exemption of parcels to under $40 and established a $150 limit for duties.

U.S.-based sellers have pushed for a major increase in the de minimis threshold, meaning more items purchased from the U.S. are exempt from customs duties and sales taxes, whereas, in some cases, buying the same product within Canada can cost more. In addition, the structure is such that Canada Post collects de minimis fees on items over $20, while FedEx or other third-party shipping companies collect on items over $40. This makes it more difficult for retailers and consumers to anticipate and calculate costs.

abstract idea of canada and us cross border shopping issue

We are asking the federal government to:

  • Defend the exclusion of Canada Post’s parcel shipments from the new de minimis threshold levels since the threat arises more from Canada’s postal stream than from the courier stream – especially on low-value parcels.

Advice when meeting with candidates

two retailers shaking hands with candidate

An election is the best time to reach out and meet your local candidates.

It’s a great opportunity to share your perspectives, and discuss how the government can help small, mid-sized and large businesses grow and prosper.

Given that the retail industry is vital to every community in Canada, RCC needs your help to get the retail industry’s message front and centre. We have a unique opportunity to ensure that every candidate in every community knows the importance of the retail sector. We can provide candidates with approaches to ensure the competitiveness of our industry if they are elected.

Here are some ways that you can help spread the message about the importance of retail in your community:

  • Learn about your local candidates by visiting their party websites.
  • Request a meeting with each of your local candidates to discuss issues facing retailers in your community. RCC has prepared one-pagers on the key issues to help guide your discussions.
  • Attend events where candidates will be in attendance. To find out about upcoming events, check your candidates’ websites, sign up for their newsletters, or follow them on social media.

Contact Us

John GrahamFor questions or to find out more, contact Jason McClinton jmclinton@retailcouncil.org or 613-656-7903.

Be heard. Save money. Stay informed.

Become a member