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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read