indicatorThe Owl

Wholesale and retail take COVID-19 on the chin in April

With the exception of grocery, convenience, liquor and cannabis stores, retail sales in Alberta were down in all major subsectors.

By ATB Economics 19 June 2020 1 min read

As we have discussed in The Owl before, we have a pretty good sense of what happens when a pandemic locks down a large part of the economy—employment, consumer spending, manufacturing shipments and international trade all go into sharp decline. Our attention has shifted to what is happening as the economy reopens.

Still, the picture in the rearview mirror sets the baseline against which to measure the recovery and reminds us of the scale of the challenges we face.

In keeping with this, statistics released yesterday and today show the dramatic decline in wholesale and retail revenues in April when pandemic containment efforts were at their fullest.

Seasonally adjusted wholesale sales in Alberta were down by 4.9 per cent in April compared to February. The drop in Canada was much larger at 23.6 per cent due in part to a $6.5 billion (unadjusted) contraction in Ontario’s motor vehicle and parts sector.

On the retail front, seasonally adjusted monthly sales in Alberta fell by 29.2 per cent between February and April compared to 33.6 per cent for Canada as a whole.

With the exception of grocery, convenience, liquor and cannabis stores, retail sales in Alberta were down in all major subsectors.

Retail e-commerce sales by Canadian retailers (which does not include foreign-based operations such as Amazon*) surged to a record high of 9.5 per cent ($3.4 billion) of total retail trade in April (data by province are not available).

*If an on-line retailer has a Canadian location that operates as a retail business, it is included as a Canadian retail operation. If it does not, it is excluded, even if the retailer has significant sales to Canadian consumers, a website ending in .ca, or even logistics, fulfillment centres/warehousing, or shipping services that are based in Canada. These businesses are classified as foreign-based retailers, not Canadian retailers. See “Retail E-Commerce in Canada” for more information.

Seasonally adjusted monthly sales in Alberta fell by 29.2 per cent between February and April

Seasonally adjusted monthly sales in Alberta fell by 29.2 per cent between February and April


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