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Canadian retail sales fall 0.8% in December 2017

Canadian retail sales declined 0.8% in December 2017 after three consecutive monthly increases as sales at general merchandise stores, health and personal care, and electronics and appliance stores fell from the previous month.

Total retail trade in current dollars decreased to C$49.65 billion in December 2017 from C$50.04 billion in November 2017, but was up 5.8% from December 2016, Statistics Canada said. Excluding motor vehicles and parts dealers, sales were down 1.8% in December 2017 from the previous month.

Sales at general merchandise stores fell 5.3% following two consecutive monthly increases, and health and personal care stores sales declined 3.8% on weaker sales in Ontario. The 9.1% decrease in sales at electronics and appliance stores in December 2017 followed a 12.7% increase in November 2017.

Motor vehicle and parts dealers posted a 2.1% increase in sales during the month, and sales at food and beverage stores were up 1.4%.

Annual retail sales increased at their highest rate in more than 20 years, growing 6.7% to C$588 billion in 2017. The increase was led by motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations and was partly attributable to higher prices. Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, sales were up 4.7% in 2017.