Canadian retail sales fell 10% in March, April expected to be worse

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OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales in Canada posted their biggest monthly decline on record in March and warned that the drop for April will eclipse that loss.

The agency says retail sales fell 10.0 per cent to $47.1 billion in March as non-essential businesses began to shut their doors mid-month due to the pandemic.

The drop was in line with economists’ expectations of 10 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Statistics Canada also says a preliminary estimate for April indicates a 15.6 per cent drop for the first full month of the pandemic.

The March decline came as sales plunged at motor vehicle and parts dealers, clothing and clothing accessories stores and gasoline stations, while sales at grocery stores soared.

Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales were down 0.4 per cent for the month.