Printer icon Print Page

Insights on Trending Topics

Retailers Post Solid Sales Growth in April

June 22, 2017

The Conference Board of Canada’s Chief Economist Craig Alexander offers the following insights on Canadian retail trade:


“Retailers reported strong sales in April, which should set the stage for robust consumer spending in the second quarter. The broad-based gains across sectors and regions is welcome news. Consumer spending remains the fundamental driver to overall economic growth in Canada this year. The strength on the consumer front adds to the likelihood of a Bank of Canada rate hike before the end of this year,”
—Craig Alexander, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist, The Conference Board of Canada.


  • Canadians had their wallets open in April, although they paused in their auto purchases. The healthy gains in retail sales, in both value and volume terms, reflects the strength in consumer fundamentals. In recent months, there has been robust job creation and high levels of consumer sentiment, as reported by the Conference Board of Canada’s Consumer Confidence Index. 
  • Retail sales advanced a solid 0.8 percent in April, well above the consensus for a 0.3 percent gain and lifting the level of sales to 7.0 percent higher than a year earlier. Excluding prices, the volume of retail sales – which matters most for the tracking on economic growth – grew by a respectable 0.3 percent.
  • Purchases of motor vehicles and auto parts pulled back by 1.0 percent, but it is important to recognize that sales in this sector have been very strong in prior months, up 8.7 percent year-over-year, so the weakness in April still means the level of purchases is strong. 
  • Ex-autos retail sales were up a robust 1.5 percent in April, with particular strength in building materials, electronics, specialty foods, clothing and accessories, and merchandise stores.
  • Amongst the seven provinces reporting higher sales, Ontario led the way with broad based increases. Saskatchewan was the only province recording a meaningful dip in sales, but this is likely a monthly blip following a tax hike. Retail sales in the province should strengthen as the Saskatchewan economy is expected to experience solid economic growth this year.


Recent News Releases

Opportunity Knocks for Canadian Businesses in the Global Market for Climate-Friendly Goods and Services

July 11, 2017

Canada’s Aerospace Industry Vulnerable to NAFTA Renegotiations

July 05, 2017

L’industrie aérospatiale canadienne vulnérable à la renégociation de l’ALENA

July 05, 2017

Canadian Economy in Good Shape as 150th Anniversary Approaches, But Challenges Lie Ahead

June 28, 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.