Retail sales rose 0.4% to $39.1 billion in March, more than
offsetting the decline in February. Warmer than usual weather,
especially in Ontario, contributed to the gains.
In volume terms, sales also rose 0.4%.
Gains were reported in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 56%
of total retail sales.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 1.2% in March.
Higher receipts at new car dealers (+0.7%) and at other motor
vehicle dealers (+7.7%) accounted for most of the gain. The
advance in sales at the “other motor vehicle dealers” industry
followed four consecutive monthly declines. This industry
includes retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and
Warmer than usual weather in March advanced the purchase of
spring merchandise such as clothing, footwear, bicycles and lawn
and garden products.
General merchandise stores registered higher sales for a
third month in a row, rising 1.1% in March. Department store
sales increased 1.3%, more than offsetting a decline in February.
Sales at other general merchandise stores (+0.8%) were up for a
fifth straight month.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers
reported a 1.8% sales increase in March, a second consecutive
Clothing and clothing accessories store sales advanced 1.3%,
up for a sixth month in a row. This gain mainly reflected higher
sales at shoe stores (+7.2%).
Following three consecutive monthly declines, sales at
sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores rose 1.9%,
reflecting higher receipts at sporting goods stores.
Sales at gasoline stations declined for a fourth time in
five months, falling 1.6% in March.
Food and beverage store sales were relatively unchanged
from February. Increased sales at beer, wine and liquor stores
offset lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores,
convenience stores and speciality food stores.
Sales gains concentrated in Ontario
Retail sales rose in four provinces in March. Most of the
gain was concentrated in Ontario (+1.2%), where sales increased
for a fourth time in five months. Excluding Ontario, total
retail sales were flat.
Alberta registered a 0.3% increase, partially offsetting
the decline in February.
Saskatchewan retailers reported a 0.7% sales gain in March,
a sixth increase in eight months.
Following two consecutive monthly declines, sales in
Newfoundland and Labrador rose 0.7%.
The largest decline occurred in New Brunswick (-1.5%) where
sales fell for a fourth time in five months.
Sales in British Columbia (-0.2%) and Quebec (-0.1%) edged
down after increasing in February.
Note to readers
All the data in this release are seasonally adjusted and in
current dollars, unless otherwise noted.
Total retail sales by volume are measured by deflating
values in current dollars of the various trade groups using
consumer price indexes. This retail sales in chained dollars
series (2002) is a chain Fisher volume index with 2002 as the
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