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Canadian retail sales fell by 2.1% in May amid COVID-19 lockdowns

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Statistics Canada says retail sales fell by 2.1 per cent to $53.8 billion in May, as many businesses remained close during the third wave of COVID-19, but the agency expects to see a return to growth once June numbers are available.

Sales decreased in eight of 11 subsectors for May, representing more than 65 per cent of the country’s retail trade.

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The largest declines in retail sales occurred in the building material and garden equipment and supplies sector, which saw an 11.3 per cent drop, and in the motor vehicle and parts industry, which experienced a 2.4 per cent decrease.

Receipts rose 0.8 per cent at food and beverage stores and 0.9 per cent at businesses selling gasoline.

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StatCan predicts June will deliver a 4.4 per cent sales increase because fewer companies were closed during the month.

It says 5.6 per cent of retailers used to calculate its monthly numbers were closed at some point in May, compared with about 5 per cent the month before.

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