Canadian Retail Unaffected by Omicron

Original release date: March 18, 2022

Despite even more shutdowns, January retail kickstarted 2022 with stellar growth. All Stores grew by 11.2% year-over-year, while All Stores Less Automotive was slightly less at 7.2% but All Stores Less Automotive, Food, and Pharmacies (which consists mostly of physical goods) was up a huge 19.1%.

This month’s numbers were particularly impacted by an uneven January of 2021. For example, Food and Beverage Stores was down -4.0% this month, but this is compared to a 13.5% increase in 2021. It is not as though consumers are eating less food. It is more likely that they are trending back to one-store shopping trips – buying their groceries at General Merchandise Stores such as Walmart and Costco. This can be seen in its considerable 17.1% growth over January 2021. Both categories are due to see the effects of inflation sooner rather than later.

The largest increase seen this month was 54.3% by Clothing and Accessories Stores. As mentioned in our U.S. edition of the NRB, apparel remains one of the dwindling categories that hasn’t yet been hit by supply issues. Combined with gyms shutting down during New Years’ resolution season, fitness clothing and fitness products could be the driving force behind the strong growth in this and Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book and Music Stores (36.4%).

As expected, Gasoline Stations was also strong this month at 29.0%, but gas prices are not done skyrocketing yet. JCWG is keeping an eye on how this may impact the electric vs. gasoline battle.

Regionally we again see the impact of January 2021’s mixed bag, with this month’s graph looking almost the exact opposite of last years’. Toronto grew by 14% year-to-date while Montreal grew by a whopping 27%. This is compared to a -12.7% drop in Toronto and a -15.0% drop in Montreal in 2021.

Overall, January omicron fears and repeated shutdowns did not deter shoppers. Will February see that change?

For this month’s or any other month’s full dataset, contact us.

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