August retail sales inch higher in B.C.: StatsCan

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British Columbia retail sales volumes continue to rebound beyond pre-COVID-19 levels, according to Statistics Canada, up 0.5 per cent in August compared to July, to a seasonally adjusted $7.6 billion.

The numbers represent a $231-million or three-per-cent increase from February 2020, with food and beverage, building materials and garden equipment being the main drivers.

Martes Farrugia of Vancouver Gas Fireplaces said her company benefited from the summer buying boom, as people adjusted to the realities of COVID-19 by upgrading their outdoor spaces.

"The heater calls have just subsided a bit. People were designing a lot of their own patios with both gas and electric heaters ... and we had a lot of restaurants asking for the heaters," she said.

"Everybody seemed to understand there were a lot of back orders on things so they were buying them and patiently waiting for them to come in."

Farrugia says gas fire pits and fire tables have also been hot sellers.

According to StatsCan the rate of growth was even greater in the census metropolitan area of Vancouver where retail sales rose 2.4 per cent month over month.

Nationally, Canadian retailers logged $53.2 billion in sales in August, the fourth month in a row that sales have increased since cratering in April because of COVID-19.

But preliminary numbers for September show that sales flattened during that month, a discouraging sign that the recovery may be running out of steam.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that overall, sales grew by $192 million, or 0.4 per cent, from July's level.