Building Materials Lead July Retail Sales Decrease

Retail sales rose 0.6 per cent to $52.9 billion in July, led by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, says Statistics Canada. Following four increases in five months, sales at core retailers (which excludes motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations) decreased 1.2 per cent in July, led by sharply lower sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-11.6 per cent). Overall, the recovery in total retail sales has been V-shaped, with sales in June and July rebounding from the record low observed in April. The period of depressed retail sales in the second quarter of 2020 coincided with a 13.7 per cent decline in household spending (nominal terms) and an increase in the household savings rate to 28.2 per cent as physical distancing measures left Canadians with fewer places to spend. However, with the gradual resumption of business activities across the country, retail sales in June and July were able to recover and surpass February's pre-pandemic levels. Based on respondent feedback, approximately three per cent of retailers were closed during July. The average length of shutdown was one business day. Sales rose in British Columbia (+2.1 per cent) on higher sales at gasoline stations. Retail eCommerce sales were $2.8 billion in July, accounting for 4.8 per cent of total retail trade.