Canada May retails sales report along with preliminary June estimates

Caanda retail sales chart
  • May retail sales -2.1% vs -3.0% expected
  • April was -5.7%
  • May retail sales ex autos -2.0% vs -2.2% expected
  • Sales ex autos and gas -2.4% vs -7.6% prior
  • Sales down in May in 8 of 11 subsectors
  • 5.6% of retailers were closed at some point in May compared to approximately 5.0% the month prior
  • Full report

April and May were expected to be soft months due to lockdown measures but the May reading was a tad stronger than expected, and better than the -3.2% preliminary estimate from Statistics Canada. The rebound in June coincides with fewer lockdown measures and suggests Canadians were eager to spend.

The largest decrease in May sales came in the building materials and garden equipment area, down 11.3% in the month in the second month of sharp declines. That may reflect consumers balking at the run-up in lumber prices.

Other sector data showed sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers down 2.4% and clothing stores down 11.2%. Positive contributions came from food and beverage (+0.8%) and gas stations (+0.9%).

The main declining provinces were the largest one: Ontario where sales fell 2.1% in the fourth decline in six months and Quebec down 2.5%. The lockdown in Quebec eased in June but continued in Ontario.