Statistics Canada says retail sales climbed 1.3% to $55.2 billion in November, rising for the seventh straight month as Black Friday boosted online shopping.
But the agency’s unofficial early estimate suggests that retailers saw sales fall 2.6% in December, at the height of the holiday shopping season.
Statistics Canada says shoppers started buying gifts early online to avoid shipping delays and take advantage of Black Friday promotions.
The agency says retail e-commerce sales for November were up 75.9% from the same month a year earlier.
Food and beverage store sales were up 5.9% in November, even as about 3% of all retailers were closed at some point in the month as restrictions tightened amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases.
Sales at auto parts dealers fell in November for the first time since April, as truck sales declined 4% from November 2019, and passenger car sales tumbled 20.5% compared with the same month last year.
BMO senior economist Robert Kavcic said in a report that while monthly real GDP growth for November should be solid, “we’re set for a steep decline in December as lockdown measures spread more widely across major parts of the country, and then extended into January.”
“That will likely set 2021Q1 real GDP in the range of -3% annualized,” the report said.