Canadian Plastics

Retail sales bounced back 18% in May, StatCan says

Sales of cars and car parts saw a 66% increase in sales during May, the agency said.

July 21, 2020   Canadian Plastics

Led by a rebounding automotive industry, Canadian retail sales grew by 18.7% in May, according to new figures from Statistics Canada.

In a July 21 press release, the agency said that retail sales increased to $41.8 billion in May after steep declines in the previous two months. Sales of cars and car parts saw a 66% increase in sales during May.

But May’s retail sales were still 20% below levels in February, before physical distancing measures were implemented to fight COVID-19.

StatCan said that sales in 10 of the 11 sub-sectors the data agency tracks were higher during May, as large parts of the economy started to reopen after being completely shut in March and April due to the pandemic. Grocery stores were the only type of stores that didn’t see an increase in May – grocery store sales slipped two per cent from April’s level, StatCan said. Every other type of store saw higher sales.


Sales were also up in every province, StatCan said, despite the fact that much of Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, remained closed through a good part of the month. Quebec, Manitoba, and the Maritime provinces topped the list with higher-than-average increases, while Ontario was near the bottom at 14.2%.

While May’s retail sales increase was encouraging, it was not in fact as big as the 20% rebound that many economists were expecting. Preliminary data suggests an even bigger rebound is in store for June, StatCan said, as figures indicate sales were up by another 24.5%.

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