Retail sales increased 0.9% to $60.7 billion in April. Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, led by higher sales at general merchandise stores (+4.2%).
Sales were up in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 43.3% of retail trade.
Core retail sales—which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers—increased 1.0%.
In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.9% in April.
Given the continually evolving economic situation, Statistics Canada is providing an advance estimate of retail sales, which suggests that sales increased 1.6% in May 2022. Owing to its early nature, this figure will be revised. This unofficial estimate was calculated based on responses received from 40.0% of companies surveyed. The average final response rate for the survey over the previous 12 months has been 92.0%.
Core retail sales rise for a fourth consecutive month
Core retail sales were up 1.0% in April. Leading the increase to core retail were higher sales at general merchandise stores (+4.2%). This was the ninth increase in the last 11 months. According to The Retail Commodity Survey, food is the top commodity sold in this subsector and typically accounts for roughly one-third of total sales.
Sales were also up at miscellaneous store retailers (+11.3%). This was the largest increase in this subsector since February 2021. Stores in this subsector include pet stores, cannabis stores, office supplies and stationery stores and pool retailers.
The largest decline to retail sales came from building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-4.3%). This was the first decline in four months.
Receipts were also down at food and beverage stores (-0.5%). The decline was led by lower sales at beer, wine and liquor stores (-1.6%) followed by supermarkets and other grocery stores (-0.3%). The declines reported in this subsector occurred as the Portrait of Canadian Society Survey noted that rising prices are affecting nearly 75% of Canadians’ ability to meet day-to-day expenses such as transportation, housing, food and clothing. Rising prices have impacted consumer spending choices and have been felt most by those in lower income groups.
Sales at gasoline stations rise while sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers decline
Receipts at gasoline stations (+3.0%) were up for a fourth consecutive month in April. In volume terms, sales were up 5.4%. According to The Consumer Price Index, unadjusted gasoline prices were down 0.7% on a month-to-month basis, partially due to lower global demand expectations.
Sales fell 0.3% at motor vehicle and parts dealers, led by lower sales at new car dealers (-0.8%). In contrast, sales were up 1.7% at used car dealers, the first increase observed in six months. The New Motor Vehicle Sales Survey noted that year-over-year unit sales for new motor vehicles fell 13.6% compared with April 2021.
Sales up in eight provinces
Retail sales were up in eight provinces in April, led by higher sales in Ontario (+1.2%). Higher sales were observed at motor vehicle and parts dealers and general merchandise stores. Sales were up 2.6% in the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA).
Sales were up 0.8% in Quebec. The increase to April follows a 1.7% decline in March.
Higher sales were observed in British Columbia (+1.3%). Leading the increase were higher sales at gasoline stations. Sales were up 1.0% in the Vancouver CMA.
Retail e-commerce sales in Canada
On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were up 0.9% in April.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales were down 21.0% year over year to $3.3 billion in April, accounting for 5.2% of total retail trade. The share of e-commerce sales out of total retail sales fell 2.0 percentage points compared with April 2021.