In 2016, AgriBusiness was restructured into two distinct business units: Retail and Commercial. This allows our teams to get closer to our customers, to better understand their product and service needs and to provide a better customer experience both at the farm gate and at our stores.
On the retail side, we restructured to a best in-class retail organization that includes the following components: store operations, supply chain, merchandising, field merchandising and loss prevention. These changes were made to improve in-stock position, customer service, product assortment, store product presentation and to provide stronger operational processes and controls.
2016 was very challenging from a sales perspective with overall retail sales down approximately 13 per cent. We were significantly affected by abnormal weather conditions that impacted most of our growing regions, and by the effects of the economic downturn on construction sectors. The majority of our sales declines were in lumber, building materials, pre-fab buildings and fencing. We realized positive improvements in our feed business mainly driven by improved in-stock position and expanded assortments. We also experienced sales declines in our Spruceland Lumber business due to the devastating forest fires in Fort McMurray.
Our retail supply chain team improved the in-stock position on our top 1,500 articles. These are the highest ranked products, those most important to our members and customers. We have also driven efficiencies into the flow of products to our stores from our distribution center (DC) and vendor partners. Our DC in Edmonton has executed on operational efficiencies to improve productivity and the flow of freight. Our merchandising team has focused on improving the product assortment in our stores. Our goal is simple: to ensure we meet the product needs of our farmers, ranchers and small acreage owners in each of the communities we serve. Our customers and store teams have provided excellent feedback on areas of product assortment that we need to improve upon in 2017.
Our store operations teams have focused on improving store standards and customer service during 2016. In addition to this, we have seen very positive improvements in the look and feel of our stores. Customers are also noticing these changes and we are hearing positive feedback. We had one goal in mind by providing our store teams with better tools and support — allow them to do what they do best, and that is to take care of our customers.