Retail Sales Growth Goes For A Ride

Unadjusted retail sales declined 0.7 per cent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2020. But that's not the real story. Only about the second half of March was impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown and, for March alone, the decline in Canadian retail sales was a whopping 10.9 per cent. This is the sort of result, or worse, that we can expect in the April numbers when they are released, says Ed Strapagiel, a retail consultant. He says various retail sectors have been affected very differently and circumstances in Canadian retail are unprecedented, so it makes little sense to consider trends. There were also major changes in eCommerce sales, which represented about 3.7 per cent of Canadian retail sales for the 12 months ending March. In March alone, eCommerce sales gained a huge 40.4 per cent over a year ago. Year-over-year growth of eCommerce sales is expected to increase in the next few months as consumers become more accustomed to shopping online. Things will return somewhat closer to normal at some point, but it'll likely be a new normal that we haven't seen before, says Strapagiel.