Canadian retail sales fell in January by 1.1% m/m on a seasonally-adjusted basis. This is the second consecutive monthly decline since April 2020. Sales were down in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 39% of retail sales. Clothing and clothing accessories stores led the decline, down for a fourth consecutive month. Notable declines were also reported at furniture and home furnishing stores. Compared to the same time last year, retail sales were up by 1.3%.
Sales were down mainly in Quebec and Ontario, where stricter lockdown measures were in place. In BC, seasonally-adjusted retail sales rose by 4.4% m/m ($8.4 billion) and by 4.4% m/m ($3.7 billion) in Vancouver. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, contributing to the increase were sales at auto dealers and gasoline stations. BC retail sales were up by 14.5% compared to the same time last year.
In January, Canadian e-commerce sales totaled $3.5 billion, accounting for 7.8% of total retail sales, down from 8.1% in the previous month. E-commerce sales were up by 111% from a year ago. This excludes Canadians purchasing from foreign e-commerce retailers.
With the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Canada, provincial governments began to reintroduce lockdown measures, which directly affected the retail sector. Approximately 14% of retailers were closed at some point in January for an average of three business days. Statistics Canada's preliminary estimate for February suggests that retail sales increased by 4%. Growth in retail sales is expected to bounce back as the vaccine rollout accelerates and pent-up consumption is unleashed.
Copyright British Columbia Real Estate Association. Reprinted with permission.