December Statistics Canada numbers show that many retailers will need a lifeline in 2021 in order to remain viable - Retail Council of Canada

December Statistics Canada numbers show that many retailers will need a lifeline in 2021 in order to remain viable

February 19, 2021

Today’s Statistics Canada’s December 2020 retail numbers show how brittle the retail sector has become. Retail sales posted their largest decline since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, decreasing 3.4% to $53.4 billion in December (a 4.6% decrease for core retail).

The data shows that 2020 was a crushing year for many retailers, especially those deemed to be non-essential by governments across Canada. Retail is Canada’s largest private-sector employer and holds a critical role in our economy which means there is an urgent need to help retailers gain a solid footing on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.

Statistics Canada’s recent survey on business conditions reveals that 30.4% of businesses do not know how long they can continue to operate before considering staffing actions, closure, or bankruptcy. We have seen this unfortunate scenario play out many times throughout the pandemic. Large retailers with Canadian roots such as Aldo, Reitman’s, Dynamite/Garage, Bentley and Bouclair and many others have all filed for creditor protection. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is aware of some 1,826 stores in Canada that will either not reopen in 2021 or who will face significant barriers to reopening.

With Statistics Canada projecting further retail sales decreases in January and with extended lockdowns in key retail markets, (for example, all non-essential retailers in the Toronto and Peel regions of Ontario have been in full lockdown from March 24 to May 19 2020 and now again from November 23 2020 to present – representing over 162 days of lockdown), RCC is calling on the provincial and federal governments to assist retailers during this time of uncertainty and provide the necessary conditions required to bounce back stronger than before.

For more information or to schedule media interviews, contact:
Michelle Wasylyshen at

About Retail Council of Canada
Retail is Canada’s largest private sector employer. Retail Council of Canada (RCC) members represent more than two thirds of retail sales in the country. RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association that represents small, medium and large retail businesses in every community across the country. As the Voice of Retail™ in Canada, we proudly represent more than 45,000 storefronts in all retail formats, including department, grocery, specialty, discount, independent retailers and online merchants.