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Canada: Furniture, electronic store sales fall slightly in October

Thursday, January 07, 2016 > 09:39:19
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(Home Goods Online)

After setting a new monthly sales record in August, Canadian furniture store sales faltered slightly in September and October although for the first time ever they remained above the $900 million mark for three consecutive months, according to figures published in late December by Statistics Canada. Home furnishing stores saw sales grow on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis as electronics and appliance stores continued to lose ground.

According to the national bean counter, furniture store sales were pegged at a preliminary and actual $938.0 million in October, slipping 2.1% from the revised $958.3 million in September. They were also 9.5% higher than the $856.3 million rung-up in October 2014.

Sales fell for the second consecutive month in October. On a month-over-month basis, sales fell in every province except Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. In Alberta and New Brunswick they were essentially unchanged from the prior month.

For the year-to-date, furniture store sales were $8.69 billion - a 5.7% gain over the $8.22 billion for the same period of 2014. YTD sales were up in every province across the country except Quebec - where sales were down 1.1% - and Newfoundland, where they were essentially unchanged.  The gains ranged from 1.7% in Alberta to 17.8% in Prince Edward Island.

In his analysis, retail consultant Ed Strapagiel noted that for the trailing 12 months ending in October, furniture store sales were $10.5 billion, up 6.1% over the comparable period.

Home furnishings stores

Meanwhile, home furnishings stores - which sell everything from floor covering to lamps and lighting, decorative accessories and wall art as well as accent and occasional furniture - saw preliminary October sales of $527.7 million, a gain of 1.8% over the revised $518.2 million for September and an 2.0% uptick from sales of $517.5 million in October 2014.

These merchants only partially regained ground lost in September over August when sales were $526.4 million - the highest monthly total to date in 2015.

On a month-over-month basis, sales were up in Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia but down in the other six provinces save New Brunswick, where they were essentially unchanged.

On a year-to-date basis, home furnishings store sales were $4.89 billion at the end of October, a 5.1% advance from the $4.65 billion for the same period a year ago.

YTD sales were up in every province save for Newfoundland (-1.4%), P.E.I. (-5.1%) and Saskatchewan (-3.2%) but up in the remaining seven, led by B.C. where they were up 13.1%.

For the trailing 12 months, sales were up 6.1% to $6.1 billion.

Electronics and appliance stores

Electronics and appliance stores didn't fare as well as its big ticket counterparts with October preliminary and actual sales of $1.18 billion, down 6.5% from the $1.26 billion rung-up in September and off 4.5% from the $1.24 billion recorded for October 2014.

On a month-over-month basis, sales were down in every province - at rates ranging from 13.2% in PEI to 1.5% in Alberta - from coast-to-coast, except for Saskatchewan where they gained 2.7% over the prior month.

For the first ten months of the year, white and brown goods merchants had sales of $11.2 billion, essentially unchanged from the same period last year.

By this measure, sales were off in seven provinces, the exceptions being New Brunswick, Ontario and B.C. where the gains were 1.6%, 1.2% and 4.7% respectively.

For the trailing 12 months, electronics and appliance stores sales were up 0.9% at $14.9 billion.

All location-based retail

According to Statistics Canada, all location-based retail had store sales of $44.7 billion during the month of October, a gain of 2.2% over the $43.8 billion rung-up in October 2014.

While automotive dealers saw sales improve 5.4%, gas stations saw their receipts fall 12.8% as prices at the pump continued to moderate - something many observers have noted is at least partially responsible to the strong performance of remaining ten or so key retail sectors tracked by Statistics Canada.

This left all retail less automotive with sales of $28.8 billion, a year-over-year gain of 3.9%

For the year-to-date, all location-based retail store sales were $423.9 billion, up 2.1% over the $415.1 billion for the same period of 2014. All less auto had sales of $268.9 billion, a 3.9% gain over the prior year's $258.7 billion.

While furniture stores, and to a lesser extent home furnishings stores, have enjoyed a relatively solid 2015 in terms of growth, most observers point out that core retail sales (that is location-based sales excluding autos and gas) haven't performed all that well. Recently upticks to both the unemployment rate and household debt are expected to dampen growth in consumer spending, at least in the opening weeks and months of 2016.

As Benjamin Reitzes, a senior economist for BMO Financial Group put it in a note to clients: "It's probably time to get used to lackluster gains in consumer spending, as households will be hard-pressed to ramp up spending further amid high debt burdens and weak job growth."

On the positive side of the ledger, most analysts are looking for the Bank of Canada to contemplate implementing any serious increases to interest rates until early 2017 at the earliest.


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