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B.C. retail-sales growth underperforms rest of Canada

Gasoline powers increasing Canadian retail sales in October
A woman walks by the Louis Vuitton store in Vancouver | Chung Chow

British Columbian retail-sales growth underperformed the rest of Canada in October in both month-over-month and year-over-year calculations, according to Statistics Canada.

B.C. retail sales increased by 1.27 per cent in October, compared with September, to more than $8.505 billion. Canada-wide those sales increased 1.35 per cent month-over-month in October, to more than $61.972 billion.

The difference betweeen B.C. and Canada as a whole was more stark on a year-over-year basis.

B.C. retail sales increased 3.64 per cent year-over-year in October, while the country as a whole saw retail sales increase 6.44 per cent year-over-year in October, compared with October 2021.

Canada-wide, the month-over-month retail sales increase was the largest in five months. Sales rose in six out of 11 subsectors, representing 84.4 per cent of retail trade. 

October's month-over-month increase was largely driven by a 6.8-per-cent sales increase at gasoline stations, and a 2.2-per-cent sales increase at food an beverage stores.

If gasoline and food are stripped out of the calculation, retail sales in Canada increased 0.9 per cent month-over-month, according to the nation's number cruncher.

One surprise was that Statistics Canada's early estimate for November retail sales is for a 0.5-per-cent decline. 

That negative assessment of November sales is at odds with Royal Bank of Canada's (TSX:RY) RBC Consumer Spending Tracker report, released Dec. 15. 

That report noted that Black Friday, on Nov. 25, marked a strong start to the holiday shopping season in Canada as sales surged. November sales tend to pick up as the month progresses.

"Spending on electronics is running below prior holiday shopping periods, but spending on apparel, gifts, books, music, and entertainment is strong," the bank said in its report.

"So far, holiday jewellery spending is six per cent below 2021 levels, but previous trends suggest a boost in purchases from last minute shoppers may yet arrive."

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