OTTAWA -- Statistics Canada says retail sales slipped 0.2 per cent to $38.9 billion in February, largely offsetting a gain in January.
New-car sales accounted for most of the decline, but five of 11 subsectors, representing 57 per cent of total retail sales, reported declines.
In volume terms, retail sales decreased 0.6 per cent.
Sales of motor vehicles and parts fell 2.4 per cent, with new car dealers reporting a 2.8 per cent decline.
Food and beverage sales edged down 0.2 per cent for a second consecutive monthly decline, while gasoline stations reported a 1.7 per cent gain because of higher pump prices.
Sales fell in six provinces in February, with Ontario reporting the largest decline at 0.9 per cent.
Sales in Alberta were off 0.6 per cent, while sales rose in 0.7 per cent in Quebec and 0.4 per cent in British Columbia.
Arguably the grand-daddy of Canadian loyalty programs, Canadian Tire Money has been a staple of wallets north of the border since the 1950s. Though the "currency" is little more than a discount on future purchases, it has gained some notoriety as a fraudulent currency used abroad by unscrupulous Canadians.
Aeroplan, woned by Montreal-based Aimia, started out in 1984 as Air Canada's loyalty program. It has since expanded to cover a number of other brands and stores, including Esso, Home Hardware, Sobeys and Nestle.
The Bay's rewards program began in 1986 as Club Z, the loyalty program launched by Zellers. It was folded in HBC Rewards after the Hudson's Bay Company bought the Zellers chain.
Air Miles was created in 1988 by the UK-based Loyalty Management Group, and the Canadian version arrived in 1992. The concept of collecting "miles" for air travel through other purchases has since taken off, and Air Miles is among the most common loyalty programs to be found at Canadian retailers. Air Miles has more than 100 participating retailers in Canada.
Canadian grocery giant Loblaws launched President's Choice Financial, its retail banking division, in 1996, and with it, PC Points, the chain's loyalty program. Shoppers earn points by using their PC credit card or bank card, or by making transactions at PC Financial.
Shoppers Drug Mart, the country's most prominent drugstore chain, launched its Optimum Card in 2000. Shoppers take note: you won't get any points for buying prescription drugs or lottery tickets.
Indigo Books and Music owns most of the major national bookstore chains you see in Canada, including Chapters, Coles and Prospero. Market observers said Indigo's recent foray into rewards programs may be a way of fighting off online book retailers such as Amazon.