Building Material Sector Maintains Strong Sales

Retail sales growth in 2020 was the lowest since 2009, when a decline of 2.9 per cent was recorded during the ‘Great Recession,’ says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. In comparison, Canadian retail sales declined 1.3 per cent in 2020. Different retail sectors had uneven results. Food and drug led the way with a record high 8.8 per cent retail sales growth in 2020, while store merchandise eked out a one per cent gain. For this sector, it was a roller coaster ride in 2020. Retail sales were down 12.4 per cent year-over-year in the second quarter, but recovered to gain 7.6 per cent in the last quarter. And while both the three-month retail sales trend and the underlying 12-month trend improved significantly in the second half of 2020, these positive developments may not continue into 2021 due to renewed lockdowns, shutdowns, and other COVID shopping restrictions. Within this sector, a number of retailer types had particularly strong fourth quarters, including building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers which saw sales jump 24.3 per cent. eCommerce represented about 5.9 per cent of Canadian retail sales in 2020, including both pure play as well as bricks and clicks stores.