Friday, March 20, 2009

Canadians Spent $33.7 Billion in January

British Columbia Posts Largest Gain

According to Statistics Canada retail sales rose 1.9% in January to $33.7 billion after declining 5.2% in December, which was the largest monthly decline in more than 15 years. Sales rose in five of the eight retail sectors, led by a 3.8% increase in the automotive sector. In volume terms, retail sales rose 1.8%.

Since peaking in September 2008, the monthly level of retail sales in current dollars has fallen by about 7%. The main contributors to this shift in level were lower unit sales of new motor vehicles and reduced gasoline prices.

The main contributor to the increase in the automotive sector in January was a 6.4% rise in the value of sales at new car dealers, following a 15.1% decline in December. January's gain reflects a higher number of new motor vehicles sold, according to the New Motor Vehicles Sales Survey. Sales at gasoline stations rose 2.6%, while used and recreational motor vehicle and parts dealers registered a 1.8% decline.

The two sectors where January's increases more than offset December's declines were food and beverage stores (+2.1%) and pharmacies and personal care stores (+2.0%). These stores mainly sell products (such as food and prescription drugs) whose consumption is less discretionary than other goods sold by retailers such as automobiles and furniture.

Two sectors registered sales declines in January. Sales at building and home supplies stores fell 1.4%, reflecting in part a continued slump in the housing market. Sales at furniture, home furnishings and electronics stores were down 0.7%.

Sales up in nine provinces

After declining in every province in November and December, sales rose in all provinces in January except for a 0.6% decrease in Manitoba. None of the increases offset the declines in December.

British Columbia (+3.1%) posted the largest gain, closely followed by Ontario (+3.0%) and Saskatchewan (+2.9%).


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