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Retail Trade

The retail trade industry allows the general public to purchase its goods from either in-store or non-store retailers. In-store retailers sell everything under their roofs, from groceries to the latest motor homes. Non-store retailers sell their products through vending machines, door-to-door sales, temporary stalls, and other channels. In 2014, Albertans spent $78.6 billion on retail trade, a 7.0% increase over the prior year.

GDP Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the overall size of an economy. In 2015, the retail trade industry made up 4.2% of Alberta's GDP. This represents a 0.2% decrease from 2012.

Alberta’s GDP
Decrease from 2012
  • building and garden supplies
  • clothing and accessories
  • department stores
  • food and beverages
  • furniture, home furnishings, appliances, and electronics
  • gasoline stations
  • health and personal care
  • motor vehicles and parts
  • sporting goods, hobbies, books, and music
  • after-sales services, such as installation

The retail trade industry employed 229,300 people in 2015. This is a decrease of 15,200 jobs (6.2%) from 2013.


125,200 women worked in the industry in 2015 (down 6.6% from 2013).


104,100 men worked in the industry in 2015 (down 5.7% from 2013).

Average Wage
Retail Trade
Average Hourly Wage
Average Hourly Wage
  • The average 2015 hourly wage of $22.26 for the retail trade industry was below the provincial average of $29.06.
Industry Performance

When Alberta's economy contracts, the effects are clearly felt in the retail trade industry. In March 2016, for example, Alberta's retail trade value dropped by 3.8% over the previous year, to $6.06 billion. The sectors with the largest decrease in sales were gasoline stations (down 14.5%) and appliances (down 15.5%). Motor vehicle sales dropped by 9.1% between April 2015 and April 2016, another indication that consumers are holding off on large purchases until the economy strengthens.

Industry Outlook

With experts predicting a gradual economic recovery beginning in 2017, consumer spending is expected to increase from $76.3 billion in 2015 to $83.4 billion in 2018. As more jobs are created and job seekers flow into the province, demand for more retail goods will grow.

Industry Employment Trends

Employment in this industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 0.4% from 2015 to 2019.

OCCinfo has more information about occupations in Alberta, including details about duties, working conditions, educational requirements, employment outlook, and salary ranges. You can also find reports on region-specific information about wages, job vacancies, and hiring difficulties in this industry. Visit the Survey Analysis to learn more.

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