Canadian retail sales fell in December by 3.4% m/m on a seasonally-adjusted basis. This is the first decline since April 2020. Sales were down in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 84% of retail sales. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 3.3%.
Sales were down in all provinces for the first time since April 2020. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales fell by 2.2% ($7.9 billion) and by 2.1% ($3.5 billion) in Vancouver. Contributing the most to the decline were sales at auto dealers. Compared to the same time last year, BC retail sales were up by 8.9%.
In December, Canadian e-commerce sales totaled $4.7 billion, reaching a record high and accounted for 7.8% of total sales. E-commerce sales were up by 69% from a year ago. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.
December's results were lower than estimated by Statistics Canada, but not a surprise. The reintroduction of provincial health restrictions led about 15% of surveyed businesses to close in December. Also, consumers likely pulled forward their purchases to November in anticipation of the holiday rush, as well as promotional events such as Black Friday. Growth in retail sales is expected to be weak until the vaccine becomes more widely available.
Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.