Medicine Hat News

Retail sales rise 0.4 per cent to $54.6 billion in October

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Retailers made $54.6 billion in sales in October, marking the sixth monthly increase since April’s record decline at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

Car and truck part dealers led the 0.4 per cent overall increase, as sales of trucks and buses were up 4.1 per cent from this time last year, the report said. However, Statistics Canada also noted that passenger car sales are down 23.2 per cent from a year ago, and sales at gas stations fell 2.7 per cent in October, declining for the first time in six months.

Core retail sales, excluding gas stations and vehicle parts, were up 0.3 per cent in October amid a nearly 12 per cent sales bump for sporting goods, hobby, books and music stores. Furniture stores also saw sales spike 6.6 per cent in October, and building material and gardening shops saw sales rise 2.9 per cent during the month.

E-commerce sales spiked by more than two-thirds in October compared with this time last year, and now represent more than five per cent of overall retail trade.

But the agency also said that retail sales fell in Ontario during October for the first time since April, amid record increases in COVID-19 cases and stricter public health measures. Sales also fell 4.3 per cent in New Brunswick, where general merchandis­e stores were dinged during the month.

“Today’s release surprised to the upside, with positive growth in October as well as an upward revision to an already-strong showing in September,” wrote Ksenia Bushmeneva, an economist at TD Economics.

“That being said, this was likely the last bout of good news for some time. With COVID-19 cases remaining high or increasing across much of the country and restrictio­ns intensifyi­ng, things will likely get worse before they get better.”

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