Retail sales increase 0.6% in September

By Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press | November 24, 2023 | Last updated on November 24, 2023
2 min read
Young woman small business owner online shopping at home
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Retail sales rose 0.6% to $66.5 billion in September led by increases at motor vehicle and parts dealers, Statistics Canada said Friday.

The agency’s early estimates also suggest retail sales increased 0.8% in October, though it cautioned the forecast would be revised.

For September, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 1.5%, led by a 2.4% gain in sales at new car dealers, while used car dealers saw a 2% drop.

Core retail sales — which exclude gasoline stations, fuel vendors and motor vehicle and parts dealers — fell 0.3% in September.

CIBC economist Katherine Judge said that reflected “widespread weakness across many discretionary categories.”

While the overall results were “well above” predictions of a flat month for retail sales, Judge noted the 0.6% rise was concentrated in auto sales and gasoline.

October’s advance estimate “would likely just represent a temporary reprieve, given the climb in the unemployment rate that’s being seen, along with the impact of mortgage renewals at higher interest rates,” she said in a note to investors.

Sales at food and beverage retailers fell 0.4%, while sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, book and miscellaneous retailers dropped 1.6%.

In volume terms, overall retail sales increased 0.3% in September.

TD economist Maria Solovieva said there is risk that a seasonal surge in shopping toward the end of 2023 may not be enough to reverse weak momentum from last quarter.

“Our estimates using internal card spending point to a continued slowdown in October,” she said in a note.

“While Black Friday deals might attract attention, the overarching theme of this year’s holiday shopping is expected to be centred around bargain hunting, reflecting cautious consumer sentiment.”

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Sammy Hudes, The Canadian Press

Sammy Hudes is a reporter with The Canadian Press, a national news agency headquartered in Toronto and founded in 1917.