Retail sales increased 2.0% in May to $50.8 billion, following a 0.9% decline in April. Sales rose in 8 of 11 subsectors, representing 70% of retail trade.
Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and at gasoline stations were the main contributors to the gain in May. Excluding these two subsectors, retail sales were up 0.9%.
After removing the effects of price changes, retail sales in volume terms increased 2.0%.
Sales rebound in several subsectors
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (+3.7%) made almost a full rebound following a 3.8% decline in April, which had unseasonably cool temperatures and inclement weather in many parts of the country.
Receipts at gasoline stations (+4.3%) were up for the second month in a row, partially reflecting higher prices at the pump. Sales in volume terms at gasoline stations rose 2.7%.
General merchandise stores (+3.2%), building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+5.4%) and clothing and clothing accessories stores (+2.8%) also contributed to the gain. Increases in each of these subsectors more than offset the declines that had been reported in April.
Food and beverage stores (-2.1%) posted a sales decline for the fourth time in five months. The decrease in May was primarily due to lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (-3.1%).
According to the Retail Commodity Survey, 20.6% of food sales took place at general merchandise stores in the first quarter of 2018 compared with 19.1% in 2017. During the same period, 75.1% of food sales came from the food and beverage stores subsector, down from 76.5% in 2017.
Higher sales in seven provinces, led by Ontario and Quebec
Seven provinces reported higher sales in May, with Ontario and Quebec more than offsetting their declines from April.
Sales in Ontario (+2.6%) increased for the fourth time in five months. Higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers accounted for the majority of the increase in May. Sales in the Toronto census metropolitan area (CMA) were up 1.4%.
In Quebec, sales increased 3.0%, following a 2.6% decline in April. Sales were up 1.4% in the Montréal CMA.
E-commerce sales by Canadian retailers
The figures in this section are based on unadjusted (that is, not seasonally adjusted) estimates.
On an unadjusted basis, retail e-commerce sales totalled $1.4 billion, representing 2.5% of total retail trade. On a year-over-year basis, retail e-commerce rose 16.9%, while total unadjusted sales increased 5.5%.