August retail sales, as reported by StatsCan, indicate Canadian consumers spent 3.8% less in August compared to the previous month, continuing a trend of softening sales after an initial strong rebound earlier this year.
The Health & Personal Care sector* posted even weaker sales: a 7.0% decrease compared with the prior month. The August decline follows 3 consecutive months of increases from the low point in April 2020.
Among all categories, building material and garden equipment stores and food and beverage stores showed the strongest increases, whereas clothing stores were unchanged and sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores fell, as did home furnishings.
By region, H&PC retail sales were strongest in Atlantic Canada (+10.3%) and British Columbia (+2.6%). Ontario (-12.1%), Quebec (-5.2%) and Alberta (-6.1%) showed the weakest sales versus the prior month.
The same period report shows online sales also slowing down but still significant higher compared with the same period last year.
The Retail Council of Canada reports that the preliminary results for September 2020 also indicate sales softness.
H&PC retail category is a broad swath of personal care retail operations that includes pharmacies and optical stores but excludes mass merchandisers and private optometry clinics. The H&PC retail category may not be an exact benchmark for individual practices.