Extreme weather helped slash Canadian retail sales by a seasonally adjusted 1.8 per cent in December, data which will help cement expectations that the economy shrank in the month, according to a Statistics Canada release on Friday.
The fall, the biggest in 12 months, was far worse than the –0.4 per cent median forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. The volume of retail sales, relevant for real gross domestic product, fell by even more, 2.2 per cent.
December had already seen a 1.4 per cent drop in wholesale trade, a 0.9 per cent fall in manufacturing sales, a 4.1 per cent decline in building permits, and a worsening in the trade deficit to C$1.7-billion ($1.5-billion) from C$1.5-billion in November. The weather was a factor in most of the declines.
The biggest decline in dollar terms was in the auto sector, down 3.2 per cent. Severe weather helped cut building material and garden equipment sales by 8.2 per cent and helped cut into Christmas shopping in a number of sectors.