Statistics Canada released May retail sales numbers last Friday, which showed that total May 2021 sales were down -2.1% on a month-over-month basis but up +24.6% year-over-year. The decline in May sales numbers is not surprising given the shutdowns in place at the time, particularly in Ontario. Based on respondents’ feedback, 5.6% of retailers were closed at some point in May 2021, compared with approximately 5.0% of retailers being closed the month prior. (StatCan shutdown numbers do not include stores that continued to sell via curbside pickup).
The largest declines occurred at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-11.3%) and motor vehicle and parts dealers (-2.4%). Apparel sales have continued to languish throughout the pandemic and have been heavily impacted by changes in consumer behaviour
In jurisdictions such as Ontario, the real test will be next month’s numbers, which will show the effects of reopening. Ontario moved into Phase 1 on June 7, 2021 and to Phase 2 on June 23, 2021.