B.C. Retail Sales Numbers Decline

B.C. retail sales decline | BCBusiness
The latest retail sales numbers for B.C. are best understood by comparing same-period sales figures.

Why B.C. saw a decline in retail sales despite an overall national increase

Despite an overall retail sales increase in February 2013 of 0.8 per cent in Canada, to $39.5 billion, sales in B.C. saw a 0.3-per-cent decline.

The numbers, however, are best understood by comparing annual changes—February 2012 to February 2013. “Retailers never look at seasonally adjusted figures, and always look at same-period sales,” says retail analyst David Ian Gray of DIG360 Consulting Ltd. “When we do this, we see a B.C. drop of 4 per cent and a Canada drop of 2 per cent—not that much difference. February 2012 saw a large gain over the prior year of 9 per cent. This is basically a ‘normal’ February after an unusually strong one in 2012.”

Gray says a 12-per-cent decline in new- and used-car dealers (and parts) was a major contributor to the decline. That same sector saw a 21-per-cent gain last year. “Other categories followed a similar but smaller magnitude pattern,” he adds.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, furniture and home furnishing stores saw a 3-per-cent gain.

“Electronics continue to slide,” says Gray. “People are not buying the gadgets the way they did, prices are coming down and there is really no breakout new device in February. Not even BlackBerry could save the category.”