Flat December Sales Caps Bad Year for Retailers

Retail tills in this country sang something of a boring tune in the last month of calendar 2019, and at the same tempo, according to figures released Friday by Statistics Canada.

Statistics Canada says retail sales were virtually unchanged at $51.6 billion in December. The flat reading for the final month of the year followed growth of 1.1% in November.

Economists had predicted a 0.1% gain. Excluding autos, sales were up a better-than-expected 0.5%.

Receipts seesawed in the previous two months, from a 1% decline in October to a revised 1.1% gain in November. The net result, however, was a 0.2% drop in revenue in the fourth quarter. Sales fell in the three-month period despite higher prices, with volumes down 0.5% on the quarter.

On the year, retail sales totaled $615 billion, up 1.6% from 2018.