Printer icon Print Page

Insights on Trending Topics

Canadian Retail Cash Registers Fell Silent in December

February 22, 2017

The Conference Board of Canada’s Chief Economist Craig Alexander offers the following perspectives on Statistics Canada's Retail Trade announcement.


“Canadians kept their wallets closed in December, but this followed solid growth in the prior months and the weakness in retail spending is unlikely to persist. As economic growth improves, job creation continues, and incomes rise at a modest pace, we should see moderate gains in retail spending this year,”
—Craig Alexander, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, The Conference Board of Canada.


  • Canadian cash registers fell silent in December, with retail sales posting a 0.5 per cent decline in the last month of 2016 versus consensus forecasts for a flat reading.
  • The details were equally negative. Removing price effects, the volume of retail sales fell 1.0 per cent, which will weigh down economic growth in the month. 9-of-11 retail sectors recorded a decline. 8-of-10 provinces also recorded lower sales. Most of the sectors involved in the holiday shopping season experienced a pullback in customer spending, although on-line purchases in December recorded a gain. 
  • Excluding the volatile vehicle and parts sector, retail sales were down 0.3 per cent. Spending on gasoline rose 6.6 per cent, with the result that retail spending excluding autos and gasoline was down a significant 1.4 per cent.
  • The negative news for December is tempered by the fact that retail sales followed three months of growth, and monthly data tends to be quite volatile. For 2016 as a whole, retail sales rose 3.7 per cent from their levels in 2015, which constitutes a modest increase. 


Recent News Releases

Canadian Organizations’ Rewards and Recognition Programs Don’t Match Millennial Workforce Realities

June 22, 2017

Confiance des entreprises et embauches en hausse égale meilleure performance du secteur Canadien des services aux entreprises en 2017

June 20, 2017

Improving Business Confidence and Hiring Will Drive Stronger Performance in Most Canadian Business Services Industries in 2017

June 20, 2017

Peut-on se sortir de la pauvreté au Québec?

June 01, 2017

Photo of Craig Alexander Craig Alexander
Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist

Craig Alexander brings over 19 years of experience in the private sector as an economic and financial forecaster to the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. He oversees the Board’s macro-economic outlook products, custom economic and tourism research.

Follow Craig on Twitter


Media Contacts

Members of the media should contact corporate communications for all requests, including reports and interviews.

Yvonne Squires
Senior Specialist, Communication Programs


Connect with Us


Access Our Research

Access to The Conference Board’s reports is free of charge to professional journalists upon request.

Access Our Experts

We have a team of experienced researchers and economists who are able to comment on current events or share their expertise for news features.