Canadian monthly retail sales rise over $57 billion as provinces ease COVID-19 restrictions

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      Retail sales across Canada rose 2.1 percent month-over-month in August, totalling $57.2 billion.

      In terms of volume, sales increased 1.4 percent in the said month.

      The growth in retail sales came as provinces eased restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

      “In light of evolving restrictions, both retailers and consumers have adapted to changing business conditions,” Statistics Canada stated in a report Friday (October 22).

      This was reflected in activity at clothing stores.

      “Surpassing pre-pandemic levels for the second month in a row, sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores rose 3.9% in August to reach its highest level on record,” the agency reported.

      It continued, “The increase coincided with fewer restrictions on in-person shopping and recreational activities and was led by higher receipts at clothing stores (+5.2%).”

      However, shoe stores were the only store type within the subsector, which saw a decrease of negative two percent.

      In addition to clothing and clothing accessories, higher sales at food and beverage stores (+4.8 percent) and gasoline stations (+3.8 percent), made the biggest contributions to the growth in retail sales.

      Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers reported a 2.8 percent growth in sales.

      In the same report, Statistics Canada provided an advance estimate of retail sales in September, which suggests that sales decreased 1.9 percent.

      “Owing to its preliminary nature, this figure will be revised,” the agency stated.

      Commenting on Statistics Canada’s release regarding retail activity, Benjamin Reitzes of BMO Economics wrote that gains in August appear to be “fleeting”.

      Reitzes was referring to the federal agency’s flash estimate of a decline in September.

      The BMO economist wrote that “easing pandemic restrictions are likely pushing spending into the services sector, away from goods”.

      “The retail figures suggest the economy could be returning to a semblance of normalcy, with … some sectors now fully reversing pandemic driven spikes or collapses,” Reitzes stated.