Recent data compiled by Statistics Canada provides a more detailed extent of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In April, Canadian retail sales fell by 26.4% to a total of $34.7 billion. According to respondent feedback, a total of one third of retailers closed their stores in April to coincide with social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders. In the clothing and accessories sector alone, a total of 70.1% of retailers had closed their stores for an average of 20 days.
For the first time in 27 years, all sub-sectors of retail sales reported some form of decline. Although the motor vehicle sector was deemed an essential service during the pandemic, sales were down 44.3% in April, with lack of consumer demand as the contributing factor. Fuel sales fell by approximately 32.2%, which is the largest decrease in record. Simultaneously, the volume of gasoline sold dropped by 18.9% in response to low consumer demand in wake of decreased travel and heightened stay-at-home orders.
Non-essential retail categories saw the sharpest decline in sales, as many Canadians opted out of excessive consumerism during the pandemic. clothing and clothing accessories reported a decline of 84.8% between February and April, followed by declines of 66.7% in the hobby, book and music sector.
Despite declines across many retail sectors, e-commerce sales saw a significant uptake. As many Canadians opted to stay home during the pandemic, retail stores that shifted their sales to online platforms saw an increase of 120.3% on a year-over-year basis. retail e-commerce sales in Canada reported a record high 9.5% of all total retail trade for the month of April.
Information for this briefing was found via Statistics Canada. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.