Retail Sales Growth Respectable Versus Last Year

Total Canadian retail sales growth has cooled off somewhat, after hitting some high rates late last year, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. Nevertheless, there was still a respectable increase of 2.8 per cent for the three months ending January 2021. In the month of January, however, total retail sales actually declined by 1.1 per cent. The underlying 12-month trend continues to struggle and remains in negative territory, mostly due to the extreme decline in retail sales growth in the second quarter of 2020. Some positive growth trends this spring will be seen, even if only because retail sales in the coming months of 2021 will be compared to very weak 2020 year-ago numbers. Another matter is that sales trends are very uneven among the major retail sectors. Food and drug is doing extremely well, a recovery in store merchandise is now losing steam, and eCommerce is absolutely booming. Within store merchandise, retail fortunes vary greatly by store type. Sales at building material and garden equipment/supplies dealers were up a whopping 23.9 per cent year-over-year for the three months ending January 2021. At the other end of the scale, retail sales at clothing and accessories stores were down a disastrous 26.9 per cent.