Retail sales fell 3.4 per cent in December

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales in December posted their largest decline since the low of April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency says retail sales fell 3.4 per cent to $53.4 billion in December as sales fell in nine out of 11 subsectors.

Statistics Canada also says its preliminary estimate for January suggests that retail sales fell 3.3 per cent last month, but noted that the figure will be revised.

A resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Canada prompted provincial governments to reintroduce physical distancing measures late last year that hurt the retail sector.

Core retail sales — which exclude sales by gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers — fell 4.6 per cent in December on lower sales at general merchandise stores and clothing and clothing accessories stores, as well as sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores.

Retail sales in volume terms fell 3.6 per cent in December.