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​Retail Sales Healthy in Second Quarter Despite Flat June

Aug 23, 2019

Ottawa, August 23rd, 2019—The Conference Board of Canada’s Senior Economist Christopher Heschl offers the following insights on today's release of data on retail trade:

“Today’s Statistics Canada release showed retail sales remained nearly unchanged in June. This is following a decline of 0.2 per cent in May, which marked the first pullback since January. Although sales rose in most subsectors, these gains were largely offset by sales contractions of 2.5 per cent in motor vehicles and parts and 3.4 per cent in gasoline. After accounting for price changes, total monthly sales volume increased by 0.5 per cent. All told, retail sales climbed by a healthy 1.2 per cent in the second quarter. Looking ahead, recent strong wage and employment gains should continue to counteract high household debt and help drive steady advances in retail spending over the rest of 2019.”


  • In June, retail sales remained nearly unchanged following a decline of 0.2 per cent in May.
  • Retail sales declined in 4 of 11 sectors, with lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations offsetting stronger gains in other subsectors.
  • Two categories—clothing and clothing accessories stores and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores—posted strong gains in June, thanks in part to the Toronto Raptors’ NBA championship run.
  • Excluding sales of motor vehicles and parts and gasoline, total monthly retail sales rose 1.7 per cent.
  • Retail sales were up 1.0 per cent on a year-over-year basis.
  • After taking into account price changes, retail sales in volume terms climbed 0.5 per cent.
  • Sales shrank in four provinces, with Saskatchewan seeing the largest decline of 2.7 per cent. After posting declines in April and May, all the Atlantic provinces saw sales rise in June, led by Nova Scotia’s gain of 2.8 per cent.
  • Retail sales fell in all three census metropolitan areas. Monthly sales declined by 1.5 per cent in Montreal, 1.3 per cent in Vancouver, and 0.2 per cent in Toronto.
  • On a year-over-year basis, sales rose by 3.4 per cent in Montreal and 1.6 per cent in Toronto. In Vancouver, sales fell by 0.1 per cent.
  • Overall, retail sales growth in Vancouver and Toronto is anticipated to be healthy in 2019, while a slower job market and softer income growth will cool sales growth in Montreal.



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