Vancouver retail struggling in comparison with Toronto and Montreal

Statistics Canada data shows retail sales fell 0.6 per cent year over year in May in Vancouver

Statistics Canada data released July 19 shows Metro Vancouver’s retail sales performance severely lagging in comparison with Canada’s two larger metropolitan areas.

Metro Vancouver retail sales slumped 0.6 per cent to $$3.369 billion in May, compared with the same month in 2018, the nation’s number cruncher revealed Friday.

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That compares with strong gains in retail sales in Canada’s largest cities. Toronto generated $8.091 billion in May, up six per cent from the same month a year earlier. Montreal saw a 5.2 per cent bump in retail sales in May, to $5.477 billion, compared with $5.205 billion in the same month a year earlier.

While the Canadian retail sector as a whole saw a slight one per cent increase in May compared with the same month a year earlier, B.C. retail sales in May were down 0.1 per cent compared to May 2018.

The main drags on B.C. retail sales were motor vehicles and parts (down 2.6 per cent) and building material, garden equipment, and related supplies (down 3.2 per cent), according to the Central 1 Credit Union's July 19 B.C. Briefing.

It is unclear exactly why B.C. retail sales have been flat to down, after peaking in late 2017, but retail spending is often seen as a sign of consumer confidence. The Vancouver real estate market has struggled of late with the MLS Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver hitting currently $998,700 in June. That is down 9.6 per cent compared to June 2018. 

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

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