18 Retail Statistics for Canadian Consumers for 2021

Today, we’re looking into retail statistics concerning Canada. We’ll examine the reasons for the recent decline, the scope of changes the retail underwent in the last few years, and the biggest retailers in the country.

Top 10 Retail Statistics for 2021

  • Sales of retail trade were at approximately $606 billion in 2020.
  • As of 2020, George Weston Ltd. was the biggest retailer in Canada.
  • Costco comes second on the list of the biggest retailers.
  • Retail trade sales were up 3.6% in March 2021.
  • Motor vehicle and parts dealers saw a rise of over 60% in their sales.
  • Food and beverage stores brought in the big bucks in March 2020.
  • E-commerce retail trade sales marked an increase in 2020.
  • The most significant jump in retail sales was recorded in 2017.
  • The revenue of Costco in Canada reached US$22,434 million in 2020.
  • As of September 2021, Amazon Canada had 25,000 employees.

Retail Industry Statistics of 2020 — Start of the Pandemic

Learn all about the changes in online shopping in 2020 and how they affected the retail trade. Let’s get going!

1. Sales of retail trade in Canada were at approximately $606 billion in 2020.

(Statista)

Retail sales witnessed a slight decline that year. The year before that, in 2019, the retail trade sales generated $615 billion — $9 billion more compared with 2020. Retail trends show that the sales were on the rise for years before the drop in 2020.

2. E-commerce retail trade sales saw a rise in 2020.

(Statista)

E-commerce retail trade sales in Canada were at an all-time high in December 2020, generating around $4,824 million. Furthermore, online retail trends indicate another significant increase in May 2020 — about $4,081 million.

3. In March 2020, food and beverage stores brought in the big bucks.

(Statistics Canada)

In March 2020, the food and beverage stores generated $13,316 million. Retail shopping statistics indicate that supermarkets and other grocery stores made over two-thirds of the profit — $9,563 million.

In addition, both convenience stores and specialty food stores surpassed the $650 million mark in their earnings each. Meanwhile, beer, wine, and liquor stores amassed $2,395 million.

4. Motor vehicle and parts dealers made a big profit in 2020.

(Statistics Canada)

As many as $8,827 million were brought in by the motor vehicle and parts dealers in March 2020 in Canada. Most profits were made by new car dealers ($6,672 million). In comparison, used car dealers and other motor vehicle dealers generated a little over $650 million each. 

In addition, retail industry statistics show that stores that sell automotive parts, accessories, and tires made $809 million in March 2020.

5. General merchandise stores generated $6,580 million in March 2020.

(Statistics Canada)

Canadians spent quite a sum that month. For instance, health and personal care stores generated $4,225 million. Notably, another $4,265 million were made at gas stations. Surprisingly, less profit was recorded by clothing and clothing accessories stores — $1,399 million.

Retail Statistics of 2021 — Living With the Pandemic

Now, which retail sectors made the biggest profit in 2021? Read on if you are ready to find out the most recent retail statistics about Canada.

6. Retail sales were up 3.6% in March 2021.

(Statistics Canada)

Retail sales statistics showed that the rise was prompted by higher sales of garden equipment and building materials. Stores that sell clothing and clothing accessories also helped the surge. However, retailers selling food and beverages witnessed a decline.

7. Retail sales saw a 4.8% rise in February 2021.

(BNN Bloomberg)

Economists caution that this rise is just temporary since the pandemic’s waves might continue affecting sales. That said, the figures were mainly boosted by sales at gas stations, new car dealerships, and clothing stores.

8. At least a few retail stores were closed at one point in 2021.

(Statistics Canada)

The government’s retailer statistics indicate that 2.1% of retailers were closed at some point in March of 2021. On average, those stores were closed for less than a day.

Those numbers marked an improvement from February when 12.0% of retailers were closed for an average of two days.

9. Generally, retail sales declined in September 2021.

(Statistics Canada)

Astoundingly, the sales were down to $56.6 billion that month. The decline was led by much lower sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-1.6%). What’s more, new car dealer sales continued struggling (-2.8%) due to the global shortage of supplies for semiconductor chips.

10. Retail consumer trends uncover that higher sales were reported at food and beverage stores in September 2021.

(Statistics Canada)

Notably, the rise was recorded across all four store types. What’s more, for a second consecutive month, receipts increased at both grocery stores and supermarkets (+1.5%). In addition, beer, wine, and liquor stores also noted an increase (+1.4%) in receipts.

11. Motor vehicle and parts dealers witnessed a decline in sales in September 2021.

(Statistics Canada)

For starters, retail sales by month mark a negative change (-1.6%) from August to September 2021. However, compared with September 2020, a positive 1.4 change was recorded in September 2021. To put it differently, the industry brought in $14,414 million in September 2020 and $14,611 million in September 2021.

12. As of September 2021, Amazon Canada had 25,000 employees.

(CTV News)

According to retail statistics, the retail giant seems to be growing thanks to the boom in online shopping. On September 13th, 2021, Amazon Canada announced that it would hire 15,000 more distribution and warehouse workers.

As of September 2021, Amazon Canada had 25,000 employees in 25 communities across five provinces. In addition, Amazon Canada has more warehouse, delivery and logistics facilities now (46) compared with mid-2020 (30).

Other Noteworthy Retail Statistics About Canada

Read on if you want to find out more about the biggest retailers in Canada and what prompted the surges in retail trade sales in the country.

13. The most significant increase in retail sales was recorded in 2017.

(Statista)

Retail statistics uncover that the sales were growing continuously from 2012 to 2019. However, in 2017, the industry witnessed the most significant increase in sales. The year before, the sales amounted to $532 billion. Then, they surged to $588 billion in 2017. That is a $56 billion increase in a single year.

14. As of 2020, George Weston Ltd. was the biggest retailer in Canada.

(Retail Council)

George Weston Limited, a Canadian food processing and distribution company, was cited as the biggest retailer in Canada in 2020. Notably, the company has over 2,609 stores and 33 chains.

Retail brands include Joe Fresh, President’s Choice, and No Name, in addition to bakery brands D’Italiano, Gadoua, Country Harvest, Wonder, and Ready Bake.

15. Costco is second on the list of the biggest retailers.

(Retail Council) (Statista)

This American retail giant has over 100 stores in Canada and takes up 14,477 square feet of space. Retail store statistics show that Costco’s revenue in Canada was continuously rising in 2016–2020.

16. Costco’s revenue in Canada reached US$22,434 million in 2020.

(Statista) 

Costco has had consistent success in Canada. That said, retail stores statistics indicate that 2016 was the year Costco didn’t record an increase in sales. That year, the retail giant’s revenue was US$17,028 million. In comparison, the year before that, in 2015, the profit was at US$17,341 million.

17. Ontario is the province with most Costco warehouses.

(Statista)

As of 2020, the province of Ontario had 36 Costco facilities of that kind. It is followed by Quebec, with 22 warehouses, and Alberta, with 18 warehouses. In comparison, Newfoundland and Labrador had only one, Canada’s retail statistics confirm.

18. Most retail businesses were somewhat optimistic about the future outlook of their business in the next 12 months.

(Statistics Canada)

With public health restrictions eased in many regions, most retail businesses interviewed in the third quarter of 2021 were either somewhat optimistic (55.4%) or very optimistic (23.0%). In contrast, 8.6% of those surveyed were pessimistic about the future of their business. That is nearly one in ten.

Conclusion

Despite the pandemic taking the world by surprise, retail rose to the challenge and even recorded positive changes in some sectors. On top of that, Canadians have been supporting local businesses, prompting a further increase in sales.

If you enjoyed these retail statistics, you might like learning more about Canadians’ holiday spending habits. To learn more about e-commerce, check our elaborate article on eBay’s impact on Canada.

FAQ

What percentage of the economy is retail?

In 2020, the retail trade accounted for around 5.13% of the total Gross Domestic Product. The year before that, it comprised 5.04% of the GDP.

(Statistics Canada)

Is the retail industry growing or declining?

Ever since 2012, the retail industry growth rate in Canada has been steadily rising. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused problems for the industry, and Canadian retail recorded a 1.5% decline in 2020.

(Statista)

What is happening to the retail industry?

Despite the pandemic, the year 2021 has given retail a much-needed boost, according to retail statistics. For instance, in March 2021, the sales were up 3.6%. What’s more, in the third quarter of 2021, retail sales were up 2.7%, marking the biggest increase since the third quarter of 2020.

(Statistics Canada) (Statista)

Sources:

Ema is an ESL teacher (who is highly curious about technology in education) and a content writer. She enjoys writing on all sorts of subjects and she loves a good challenge. When she’s not working, you can find her reading a mystery thriller or watching “Shutter Island” for the umpteenth time.

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