May 22, 2009

Canadian retail trade up for third month

Retail sales in Canada rose 0.3 percent to $33.9 billion in March, the third consecutive month of gains, Statistics Canada reported from Ottawa Friday.

The main contributor to the rise in retail sales was a 3.6 percent increase in sales at new car dealers, the agency said.

The automotive sector as a whole increased by 0.5 percent.

The rise in new car sales was partially offset by a 2.8 percent decline in sales at gasoline stations and a 2.6 percent drop in sales by used and recreational motor vehicle and parts dealers.

Sales at food and beverage stores increased for the third consecutive month, up by 0.9 percent, due in part to higher food prices, the report said.

Regionally, sales increased in seven provinces in March, led by a third consecutive month of rising sales in Quebec, which was up 2 percent and Ontario, up 0.6 percent.

StatsCan said the three consecutive monthly gains have not offset sharp declines reported in November and December. March's retail sales stood 6.3 percent lower than the peak reached in September 2008, the agency said.