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Statistics Canada says retail sales fell 0.1% in September

Retail sales fell 0.1% in September to $51.6 billion, weighed down by lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The result matched the expectations of economists, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

“All told, the Canadian consumer continues to look a bit tired, and the broader economy remains on pace for slightly below potential growth in the near term,” said Robert Kavcic, a senior economist at the Bank of Montreal.

The overall decline came as sales in the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector fell one% due to a 1.9% drop at new car dealers. Sales at gasoline stations fell 2.3%, due in part to lower prices.

Statistics Canada says excluding these two subsectors, retail sales rose 0.7%.

“The ongoing strength in Canadian labour markets, the recent momentum in housing markets and wages, and the downshift in borrowing rates may have provided a modest lift to consumer spending,” TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman wrote in a report.

“Still, elevated household debt levels and associated debt-servicing costs will continue to cap any meaningful acceleration in retail sales or consumer spending.

Sales at food and beverage stores rose 1.2%, boosted by a 1.1% increase at supermarkets and other grocery stores and a 3.2% increase at beer, wine and liquor stores. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers saw sales rise 3.3%.

Overall retail sales in volume terms fell 0.1%.

The retail sales figures come ahead of wholesale trade results for September to be released on Monday and a reading of gross domestic product for both September and the third quarter as a whole out on Nov. 29.

The Canadian economy set a blistering pace in the second quarter, but economists expect growth slowed in the third quarter amid evidence of a slowing global economy, hurt by the U.S.-China trade war.


Statistics Canada reports retail sales edged down 0.1% in August

Statistics Canada says retail sale fell 0.1% in August to $51.5 billion as sales at food and beverage stores dropped.

Economists on average had expected an increase of 0.4% for August, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Statistics Canada says sales at food and beverage stores fell 0.8% in August, the first move down from the sector in three months. Sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores fell 0.8%, while beer, wine and liquor stores dropped 1.9% and convenience stores edged down 0.1%. Sales at specialty food stores increased 2.3%.

Meanwhile, sales at gasoline stations fell 0.4% as a result of lower prices at the pump, while gasoline sales rose 2.8% in volume terms.

Sales at general merchandise stores gained 0.8% and motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 0.1%.

In volume terms, retail sales increased 0.2% in August.


June retail sales flat as Raptors effect offsets auto and gas slump: StatCan

Canadian retail sales edged expectations in June with merchandise and sporting goods sales climbing as the Toronto Raptors made their NBA championship winning run, according to the latest numbers from Statistics Canada.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores saw a 4.2% uptick in sales, while sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores recorded a 3.7% increase, the federal agency said.

“These gains also followed inclement weather in May and coincided with the Toronto Raptors playing in and winning the NBA championship in June,” Statistics Canada said in a release last week.

Most of the other subsectors saw stronger sales, but these were offset by lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations.

Overall, sales in the retail trade sector were essentially unchanged in June from May at $51.3 billion, the agency said.

Economists on average had expected a decline of 0.1%, according to the financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

“A flat Canadian retail sales reading isn’t usually anything to cheer about. But when it comes against consensus expectations for a decline, not to mention alongside a solid gain in volumes, we’ll certainly take it,” CIBC economist Royce Mendes said in a note to clients.

Sales were down in four of 11 subsectors tracked by Statistics Canada.

Motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 2.5% in June as sales at new car dealers were down 3.2%. Gasoline station sales fell 3.4% as the price of gasoline moved lower.

Excluding sales in these two subsectors, monthly retail sales gained 1.7%. Retail sales in volume terms increased 0.4%.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers rose by six%, while general merchandise stores’ sales rose by three% in June.

Cannabis stores also saw a 6.2% jump in sales in June, on a low base to $91 million unadjusted.

The uptick in sales in clothing and sporting goods during the month were likely fuelled by the Toronto Raptors’ historic win, economists said.

It was the first NBA championship in the Toronto franchise’s history and marked the first for a Canadian team in one of the big four North American professional sports since the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series.

After the win in mid-June, fans lined up outside stores to buy special edition NBA championship merchandise and millions filled the streets in downtown Toronto for a parade to celebrate the team.

“The good gains in clothing and sporting goods might be partially driven by the Raptors effect, as their championship run was in high gear in the month,” said BMO Capital Markets’ Canadian rates and macro strategist Benjamin Reitzes in a note to clients.

In addition to the Raptors-fuelled sales bump in clothing and sporting goods, the monthly survey of food services and drinking places showed a one% increase in June.

“Canadian restaurants and bars were big winners during the NBA playoffs,” CIBC’s Mendes said.