New Toyota RAV4 crossover SUVs for sale are seen at an auto mall in Ottawa, on Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

New Toyota RAV4 crossover SUVs for sale are seen at an auto mall in Ottawa, on Monday, April 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Statistics Canada says retail sales up 4.8% in February

One strategist at BMO Capital Markets says retail sales continue to perform well when stores are allowed to open

Canadian retail sales climbed in February, boosted by sales at new car dealerships, gas stations and clothing stores, but economists cautioned the pandemic’s third wave will again dent sales.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday that retail sales rose 4.8 per cent to $55.1 billion in February, while core retail sales — which exclude gas stations and motor-vehicle and parts dealers — climbed 3.8 per cent in February, the first increase in three months.

It also said that its preliminary estimate for March suggested a gain of 2.3 per cent for the month, but cautioned the figure would be revised.

TD Bank economist Ksenia Bushmeneva said retail sales rebounded in February, and likely in March, amid the easing of restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the pandemic.

“However, progress remains highly dependent on the path of the virus, which has since taken a turn for the worse as a vicious third wave led to higher caseloads and hospitalizations,” Bushmeneva wrote in a report.

Governments across the country have imposed a fresh round of restrictions in recent weeks in an attempt to slow a surge in COVID-19 cases even as vaccination rates pick up.

“Recent spending and mobility data suggests that retail sales are likely to weaken once again in April amid renewed restrictions and stay-at-home orders,” Bushmeneva wrote.

Benjamin Reitzes, director of Canadian Rates and Macro Strategist at BMO Capital Markets, said retail sales continue to perform well when stores are allowed to open.

“Accordingly, another good gain is expected in March, but April will see a big-time reversal with restrictions tightened in much of the country,” Reitzes said.

Statistics Canada said sales at motor-vehicle and parts dealers rose 5.0 per cent in February, boosted by a 5.6 per cent increase at new car dealers and a 9.2 per cent increase at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores.

Boosting core retail sales was a 6.1 per cent gain at general merchandise stores.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores also rose 23.7 per cent, the first gain for the category since September 2020, as clothing store sales rose 20.8 per cent, shoe store sales added 43.1 per cent and the jewelry, luggage and leather goods subcategory climbed 25.4 per cent.

Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores saw a 23.5 per cent increase in sales for the month, while furniture and home furnishings stores gained 18.0 per cent.

In volume terms, overall retail sales rose 4.3 per cent in February.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.
‘We did not unite around blind loyalty to one man’:Kenney faces internal call to quit

Senior backbench member Todd Loewen, in a letter posted on Facebook, called on Kenney to resign

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

The historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
Alberta RCMP investigating possible threat to police after Mirror rally

Online images show RCMP members, vehicles in crosshairs of a rifle

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

A youth plays basketball in an otherwise quiet court in Toronto on Saturday April 17, 2021. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is urging the federal and provincial governments to fight COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on proven public health policy interventions including paid sick leave, and education rather than punitive enforcement measures. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Provinces issued more COVID-19 tickets during 2nd wave: CCLA report

‘A pandemic is a public health, not a public order, crisis,’ reads the report

Most Read