2020 Retail Sales Decrease From 2019

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a series of challenges to the economic landscape of the retail sector across Canada in 2020, resulting in a transformation of consumer shopping habits and retailer business practices. Statistics Canada says retail sales reached $606 billion in 2020, down 1.4 per cent from 2019. This was the largest annual decline since the economic downturn in 2009, as the onset of COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2020 and the resulting health measures led to the temporary closure of many non-essential brick-and-mortar retailers across the country. The pandemic spurred a shift in retail spending away from some durable goods towards essential products. Motor vehicle sales saw the largest decline among all retail spending, falling 11.3 per cent from 2019 to 2020. With sales shifting towards essential products, food sales (+10.6 per cent) experienced the largest increase among all product categories.