Retail saw modest November growth

Food and drug had "an unusually slow month," while store merch is seeing positive momentum, according to consultant Ed Strapagiel.

Canadian location-based retail saw a modest year-over year gain in November, mostly attributable to a dip in the food and drug sector, according an analysis of Statistics Canada data from retail consultant Ed Strapagiel.

Retail sales overall grew 2.4% in November compared to the previous year, while gains over the last three months and year-to-date are stronger versus year ago – 4.9% and 4.7%, respectively.

Store retail saw a 2.4% year-over-year gain in November overall due to 4.4% growth in store merchandise, but a 0.3% decline in food and drug. Over the three-month period ending in November, store retail increased 3.9% versus year ago, with a 3.5% year-to-date gain compared to the year prior, according to Strapagiel.

Within the food and drug sector, convenience stores saw the highest gains with a 6.1% year-over-year increase in November, while beer, wine and liquor stores took the biggest hit (-2.8%). Supermarkets and other grocery stores also saw a decline that month (-1%) versus year-ago, according to the report. Health and personal care stores’ 1.4% growth in November helped boost the sector overall, although this increase is lower than gains over the three-month period and year-to-date, versus year ago – 4.6% and 6.8%, respectively.

Strapagiel reports that the “store merchandise [sector] appears to have strong positive momentum heading into 2015,” and most store segments experienced increases higher than average in November.  The sector climbed 4.4% in November versus year ago, with the strongest jumps in general merchandise stores (7%), clothing and clothing accessories stores (6.7%).  Within clothing and clothing accessories stores, shoe stores and clothing stores saw increases of 9.1% and 7.6%, respectively, which offset a 3.1% dip from jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (while its year-to-date year-over-year change is still in the black at 2.1%, its last three months decreased 0.2% compared to prior year).

The automotive and related sector is seeing its growth flatten out, Strapagiel says. New car dealers increased 5.7% in November versus year ago, following two months of what he calls “very strong gains,” as sales over the last three months were up 11% versus year ago. “The recent decline in Canadian interest rates may extend this hot streak a little longer,” he notes. Meanwhile, gas stations saw a 2.7% drop in November.

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