Canada flag Canada: Buying and Selling

The distribution network in Canada

Evolution of the Sector

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian retail sales increased by 11.6% in 2021 compared to the previous year at 674 billion CAD which is cause for cautious optimism that the sector is recovering from Covid-19. Retail sales in the food and beverage stores reached 143.66 billion in 2021 compare to 142.1 in 2020. Among the sectors that recorded the greatest growth in the period after the Covid-19 lockdown are food and beverage stores (+4.8%) and clothing and clothing accessories stores (+3.9%).

Consumers in Canada, especially those in low-income and middle-class households, tend to be price-conscious when buying food and drink, which creates a strong demand for private label products at promotional prices. Thus, convenience stores keep introducing different product ranges, reducing prices and changing their layouts to attract new consumers. Convenience stores and forecourt retailers continue to face strong competition from other channels such as supermarkets and hypermarkets, which provide consumers with a wider product profile, and now also a better price offering. In addition, the increasing diversity within the Canadian population is supporting the expansion of the ethnic stores. Online shopping is a growing sector, think of the launch of Amazon Fresh in the country.

Market share

The Canadian retail market is highly consolidated, with five grocery “majors” commanding over 62% of the retail share of market in 2021: Loblaws (27% market share), Sobeys, Metro, Costco, and Walmart.

The market is shared as following, in value:

  • 58% supermarkets and traditional format stores
  • 20% mass merchandisers stores
  • 7% independant and speciality stores
  • 9% chemists
  • 3% convenience stores and gas station
Retail Sector Organisations
AMDEQ (Association of shopkeepers, convenience storekeepers and grocers of Quebec)
Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers
Retail council of Canada

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Latest Update: July 2024