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Ahead of school, food store sales fall

Supermarkets see a slight decline, but convenience sales rise

Food stores didn’t escape an overall slide in retail sales in August.

Seasonally adjusted food and beverage store sales dropped 0.4% to $9.012 billion in August compared to July, Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday. Overall retail sales fell 0.3% to $40.633 billion.

Three of four subsectors in beverage experienced sales declines.

Supermarkets and grocery stores, the largest subsector, dropped 0.4% to $6.327 billion. That was a slight improvement from a 1.1% decline in July vs. June.

Sales at beer, wine and liquor stores were down 0.7% to $1.655 billion. Lower sales were also reported at specialty food stores ( down 0.5% to $486 million) for the fourth consecutive month.

The only food and beverage subsector to see an increase in August was convenience stores, up 0.4% to $545 million.

Overall retail sales fell for the second consecutive month after six months of gains, Statistics Canada reported.

Economists had expected retail sales to hold steady, according to Thomson Reuters.

Sales were down in seven of 11 subsectors, representing 76 per cent of retail trade.

Sales at gas stations declined 2.1 per cent in August to their lowest level since late 2013, mainly reflecting lower prices at the pump.

Outlets associated with back-to-school sales, such as general merchandise stores and department stores, saw higher sales in August.

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