Canadian retail off to a good start

Sales were strong for most retail sectors in the first quarter, consultant Ed Strapagiel reports.

Apart from gas sellers, most other Canadian businesses in the retail world did well in the first quarter of the year, consultant Ed Strapagiel says in his latest report.

Based on Statistics Canada information, Strapagiel says that total retail sales gained 1.8% year-over-year in the first quarter. However, that small gain is mostly because gasoline retailers – 12% of the overall total retailers – saw a sales decline of 19.2% in Q1 over last year. Those retailers’ profitability isn’t hit as hard as their sales numbers, though, since gas prices are marked up at refineries and retailers, Strapagiel notes. Auto dealers also saw 6.3% year-over-year sales growth in the first quarter, he says.

Every other retail type also saw positive sales increases during the period. Food and drug store sales, for example, climbed 4.4% during the first three months, the highest quarterly gain in six years, Strapagiel says. Grocery stores saw a 4.2% sale increase in Q1, and convenience stores’ sales jumped 7.1%. Health and personal care stores also saw their sales increase 4.8%.

For store merchandise, retail sales were up 5.7% in the first quarter, according to the report. Within that sector, building material and garden equipment sellers’ sales were up 8.9%, clothing up 8% and general merchandise up 6.4%.

“The Target closeout is still a factor in these results, but it’s not as if their sales were all that high to begin with,” Strapagiel says in his report. “Also, there are plenty of other retailers eager to take up the slack.”

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