Canadian Retail Sales Contract Less Than Expected in January; Slight Rebound Seen in February

Core retail sales increased by 0.4% in January, with higher sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, book, and miscellaneous retailers. Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers also saw higher sales. 

Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers saw a year-over-year sales increase from $3,923 million in January 2023 to $3,927 million in January 2024, resulting in a 0.1% increase for that period, which was down compared to the 2.2% increase from December 2023 to December 2024.

Retail sales decreased in four provinces, with British Columbia experiencing a 2.2% decrease and Quebec experiencing a 1.0% decrease. In Ontario, the largest provincial increase was 0.5%, driven by higher sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument, book, and miscellaneous retailers.  In volume terms, Statistics Canada reported retail sales rising 0.2% in January.

Retail e-commerce sales increased 3.5% to $3.8 billion in January, accounting for 5.7% of total retail trade, compared to 5.5% in December. The largest provincial increase in retail sales was observed in Ontario.

Statistics Canada announced that the annual inflation rate fell to 2.8% in February amid sharp declines in cellular and internet services and slower grocery-price growth. Weather is also playing a role, with some increases in sporting goods, building, and garden stores partly attributable to unseasonably warm pockets of weather in several regions in Canada. 

Source: Globe and Mail
Source: The Star
Source: Financial Post
Source: Statistics Canada

U.S. Retail Sales Rebound Less Than Expected in February; Producer Prices Accelerate

U.S. retail sales rebounded less than expected in February, and consumer spending appeared to be slowing in the first quarter amid rising inflation and high borrowing costs. However, the signs of slowing economic activity are unlikely to spur the Federal Reserve to start cutting interest rates before June, as other data on Thursday showed a larger-than-expected increase in producer prices last month. 

The labor market remains fairly tight, with fewer Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week and annual revisions to the weekly claims data showing laid-off workers were quickly finding new work and not spending as long on jobless benefits as previously thought.

Retail sales rose 0.6% last month, according to the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau. Data for January was revised lower to show sales tumbling 1.1% instead of the previously reported 0.8%. Consumer spending is holding up despite higher inflation, though households are increasingly focusing on essentials and cutting back on discretionary spending. 

Building material and garden equipment store sales rebounded 2.2%, while receipts at motor vehicles and parts dealers accelerated 1.6%. Sales at gasoline stations increased 0.9%, reflecting higher prices at the pump.

Source: Globe and Mail