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Retail Trade

The retail trade industry allows the public to buy 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, the Internet and other channels. In 2016, Albertans spent $75.1 billion on retail trade, down from $76.0 billion in 2015.

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 is 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 246,400 people in 2016. This is an increase of 17,100 jobs or 7.5% from 2015.


109,500 men worked in the industry in 2016 (up 5,400 jobs or 5.2% from 2015)


136,900 women worked in the industry in 2016 (up 11,700 jobs or 9.3% from 2015)

Average Wage
Retail Trade
Average Hourly Wage
Average Hourly Wage
  • The average 2016 hourly wage of $22.38 for the retail trade industry was below the provincial average of $29.61.
Industry Performance

When paycheques shrink and jobs are harder to find, people put off making large purchases or simply buy fewer goods. Albertans were no different after the economic downturn touched their wallets. They reduced their spending by $900 million dollars on retail goods in 2016 compared to 2015.

Even though there was a 0.5% drop in retail sales in the first half of 2016, Albertans still spent the most per capita that year. Fort McMurray residents may have caused some of that increase as they replaced items damaged in the wildfire. By April 2017, Alberta’s retail trade value rose by 6.0% over the previous April, with sales at gas stations up 16.7% and sales of electronics and appliances up 13.7%


Industry Outlook

General employment in Alberta is expected to improve slowly, with a gentle bump of 0.9% in 2017 and another 1.4% in 2018. These gains will help Albertans feel comfortable about spending their money. But household expenditures are predicted to be modest. Consumer spending will grow an average 3.5% until 2020, about 1.5% less than the previous 20 years’ average. Furthermore, higher interest rates may have residents putting extra money toward paying off debt, rather than spending it on retail sales.

Industry Employment Trends

Employment in this industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 0.8% from 2016 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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