Retail sales edged down 0.2% to $38.9 billion in February, largely offsetting the gain in January. New car dealers accounted for most of the decline. Lower sales were reported in 5 of 11 subsectors, representing 57% of total retail sales.
In volume terms, retail sales decreased 0.6%.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 2.4%, partially offsetting the rise in January. Lower receipts at new car dealers (-2.8%) accounted for most of the decline. The "other motor vehicle dealers" industry (-3.5%) posted a decrease for a fourth month in a row. Increased sales were reported at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+1.3%) and used car dealers (+0.4%).
Food and beverage stores registered a second consecutive monthly decline, edging down 0.2%. Sales were down in all industries within this subsector in February.
Sporting goods, hobby, book and music store receipts (-1.0%) declined for a third month in a row, reflecting lower sales at sporting goods stores.
Following three consecutive monthly declines, sales at gasoline stations rose 1.7% in February, reflecting higher prices at the pump.
Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers increased 2.2%, partially offsetting January's decline.
For a fifth consecutive month, sales grew at clothing and clothing accessories stores (+1.3%). Higher sales at clothing stores accounted for these gains.
General merchandise store sales rose 0.5% in February. Sales in the "other general merchandise stores" industry (+1.1%) accounted for all of the increase, advancing for a fifth time in six months.
Sales decrease most in Ontario
Retail sales fell in six provinces in February. Ontario (-0.9%) reported the largest decline in dollar terms. Lower sales of new motor vehicles were the main reason for this decrease.
Sales in Alberta decreased 0.6% in February, largely offsetting January's gain.
Quebec retailers registered a 0.7% rise in sales, a fifth increase in six months.
Sales in British Columbia (+0.4%) rose for a second consecutive month.