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OPPORTUNITIES NORTH: Retail sales rise in NWT and Nunavut

The Northwest Territories racked up approximately $916.5 million in retail trade in 2022, outpacing 2021’s $888.8 million in retail sales by 3.1 per cent.
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Arctic Connection became a new player on the retail scene in Rankin Inlet by opening a location in the community in December 2022. NNSL file photo

The Northwest Territories racked up approximately $916.5 million in retail trade in 2022, outpacing 2021’s $888.8 million in retail sales by 3.1 per cent.

In Nunavut, the $583.3 million rang up at cash registers across the territory in 2022 was 5.1 per cent stronger than the $555 million recorded in 2021.

The first quarter of 2023 showed continued strength in retail sales in the NWT with January bringing in $79.1 million, February seeing commerce hit $79.4 million and March valued at $75 million, with the latter being a preliminary figure.

Nunavut also got out of the gate with a flourish in 2023 with $50.3 million in retail sales in January, $51 million in February and, preliminarily, $50 million in March.

Retail trade weighed in at 4.3 per cent of the NWT’s gross domestic product in 2022, a reduction from 4.8 per cent in 2021.

In Nunavut, retail trade represented 2.84 per cent of the territory’s gross domestic product in 2022, which was almost identical to 2.86 per cent in 2021.

Liquor and cannabis

The NWT Liquor and Cannabis Commission reported alcohol sales of $55.7 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year. That was down from $60.4 million in 2020-21.

Cannabis sales of $7.4 million in 2021-22 exceeded the $5.1 million worth of cannabis sold in 2020-21.

The GNWT is projecting $57.2 million in liquor sales for 2023-24 and $9.5 million in cannabis sales. After expenses, profit is expected to be $8.5 million, essentially on par with 2022-23.

In Nunavut, the territorial government is forecasting sales of close to $21.1 million through the Nunavut Liquor and Cannabis Commission in 2023-24. That’s essentially consistent with $21.2 million in sales revenue generated in 2022-23. Subtracting the cost of goods sold and various other expenses, it left the territorial government with approximately $3.4 million in profits.

The commission supports 33 jobs.

Fact file

NWT 2022 retail sales by month (seasonally adjusted)

January $74.3 million

February $72.5 million

March $75.1 million

April $76.4 million

May $79.6 million

June $80 million

July $75.5 million

August $75.8 million

September $78 million

October $79 million

November $75.1 million

December $75.2 million

Nunavut 2022 retail sales by month (seasonally adjusted)

January $50.1 million

February $48.3 million

March $46.9 million

April $48.6 million

May $47.2 million

June $47.1 million

July $47.3 million

August $48.2 million

September $48.6 million

October $50.6 million

November $50.6 million

December $49.8 million

Source: Statistics Canada

For more stories from Opportunities North 2023, click this link: https://www.nnsl.com/special-feature-publications/opportunities-north-2023/