Report: Data shows a weak final month in holiday shopping season

Posted Feb 21, 2012 by Andrew Moran
With four consecutive monthly retail sales increases, a new report from Statistics Canada found that retailers suffered a weak final month of the year. The statistical analysis suggested that retail sales were down 0.2 percent to $38.6 billion.
Girl with shopping bags  Lyon France 2010
Girl with shopping bags, Lyon France 2010
The holiday shopping season is gone (thankfully for many), but sales data is still pouring in. After positive speculation by many analysts since prior to the holiday shopping season, a new report shows that the numbers are not all that good.
According to Statistics Canada, the nation’s retailers suffered a weak December as retail sales went down 0.2 percent to $38.6 billion. This surprising figure to some comes after four consecutive months of increases in retail sales.
The stats agency found that seven of 11 subsectors suffered the decline, which represented 61 percent of the United States. The stores that usually focus on gift-givers suffered the most. Department store sales fell 1.5 percent, while book, music, sporting and hobby stores saw sales drop 3.4 percent in December.
Meanwhile, sales in the big markets for holiday shopping, electronics and appliances actually declined 2.8 percent, which was the second month in a row. Clothing store sales weakened modestly by 0.8 percent.
One of the few sectors to see holiday sales increase were food and beverage stores, supermarkets, grocery stores and furniture and home furnishing stores. These retailers’ sales rose between between one and 3.2 percent in December.
Looking at the retailers in provinces, Statistics Canada noted that retail sales were down in five provinces, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Nova Scotia and Quebec reported a sales increase, 2.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
“Surprisingly, furniture/building material store sales were strong, in contrast to softness in those categories in recent months,” CIBC World Markets economist Emanuella Enenajor told Canadian Business. “The flat volume print, however, suggests that retail will exert a neutral influence on GDP in December, a bit softer than we had been expecting.”