Wholesalers' and manufacturers' sales branches are the most prominent wholesale and distribution agencies. Wholesaling is particularly prominent in foodstuffs, lumber and building supplies, hardware, coal, clothing, dry goods, automotive equipment, and machinery. In producer goods, however, direct relations are often maintained by resident or traveling agents.
Large-volume outlets, including department stores, large mail-order houses, and chain stores, often buy direct from the manufacturer. A wide variety of local and imported goods is available in all major towns and cities. Vast indoor shopping complexes have been developed in the larger cities, including Eaton Centre in Toronto with over 300 stores and the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta. A 7% goods and service tax applies to most consumer products and services.
Due to Canada's size and its regional economic differences, distribution is essentially regional. Toronto and Montréal dominate merchandising, are the headquarters of much of Canada's trade and financial apparatus, and do by far the greatest share of import business. Winnipeg is the business center for grain and agricultural implements. Vancouver is the center of the growing British Columbia market. As of 2000, about 74% of the labor force was employed in the service industry, which accounted for 71% of the GDP.
There is considerable advertising overflow from the US. Business hours are 9 AM to 5 PM , Monday through Friday. Shopping hours are 9:30 AM to 6 PM , Monday through Saturday; many stores stay open to 9 PM on Thursday and Friday nights. Normal banking hours are from 10 AM to 3:30 PM , Monday through Friday.