The ‘big five’ of retailers are in the red, with sales in Canada falling for five straight quarters, a study released Wednesday finds.

The Retail Industry and Trade Association (RITA), which compiled a list of the top five retailing categories in Canada, said sales of new goods fell in every category except new electronics and electronics and furniture, which increased.

It also found the number of new restaurant openings dropped by nearly half.

“Canada is not the same place that it was two decades ago, when the big five retailers were all strong and thriving,” said Mark Zandi, chief executive officer of RITA.

“We’re not seeing the same kind of growth in the next five to 10 years.”

Sales of new items fell in all categories except electronics, which rose in every sector except furniture and home goods.

“The fact is we’re not where we were in the past,” Zandi said.

Sales of all goods were down 1.2 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of the year, the worst performance since the last quarter of 2013.

They were down 2.7 per cent in the second quarter, the steepest decline in years.

Zandi says it’s the biggest decline in a decade.

Retailers are seeing more competition, especially from new competitors such as online shopping.

“There’s not a single company that’s going to beat our stores any faster than our stores are going to be able to match,” Zanki said.

In the food category, sales fell 2.5 per cent.

That was the steepgest decline since the third quarter of 2016.

In addition, the number, price and type of goods that can be sold online fell in each of the six categories.

“Food has been a little bit of a disappointment, it’s been a bit of an aberration for the past year and a half,” Zanksi said, adding that the industry is going through a transition.

Food and beverage sales fell in everything except new food and drink, which was up 1.3 per cent, the biggest increase since the second period.

Zankii said his group thinks the overall trend will continue.

“In terms of the future, it just feels like there’s a lot more competition out there,” he said.

“It’s going from being a small group of big companies that can just do everything and make the best products, to a larger group of smaller companies that are starting to come into the space.”

RITF predicts Canada will have a population of about 5 million by 2030.

“What’s important to realize is the numbers are still going to grow, they’re still going a lot higher, but they’re going to continue to shrink,” ZANKI said.

ZANKII said there’s been an increase in online sales, and some companies have been able to capitalize on that.

“But if you look at all the companies that have been doing it, they’ve been doing the exact opposite, and they’re not making the most of it.”

ZANKIAIS: Retail and food sector hit bottom ZANKIS said there are a lot of factors that contribute to this decline.

“For one thing, the price of goods has been declining for decades.

You know, the prices have gone up,” he told CBC News.

“You know, they were really, really high and you didn’t need to spend a lot on groceries.

But now you can get that price on your cellphone and it’s going for a little less, and you don’t need the same effort, and it goes on and on.”

Zankinis says that trend will only continue.

He said that the number one factor contributing to the overall decline was the decline in the number and quality of retailers.

“If you look around the world, when they’re all in decline, they are all going to compete against each other for that retail space,” he explained.

“And that is a competitive environment that we’re in right now.”

ZANDI: Canadian businesses are growing faster than in previous decades, but need to catch up to other nations ZANKITI said he believes the trend toward online shopping will help Canadian businesses catch up with the rest of the world.

“They are not going to outpace us in terms of growth.

We’re going in the right direction.

We’ve got some of the best growth, we’ve got the best technology, we have the best workforce,” Zansky said.

RITAS research shows the economy of the coming decade will grow by 3.5 to 4 per cent a year.

“A good chunk of it will come from a combination of technology and the ability of companies to grow their sales, increase their margins and keep pace with innovation,” said Zankiais.

“I think there will be some of that growth going to come from the internet and some of it coming from