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Canadian retail sales reach $40.3 billion in August

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Canadian retail sales reach $40.3 billion in August

Retail sales in Canada edged up 0.2 percent in August, according to the federal statistics department. This translates into $40.3 billion in total sales. The growth rate was slightly below economists’ expectations, which called for a 0.3 percent hike, according to Bloomberg.

Gains were reported in six of Canada’s ten provinces, led by Ontario and British Columbia, where retail sales expanded at a rate of 0.3 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively. Gains in these two provinces occurred in each of the 11 retail subsectors, Statistics Canada showed. Nationally, retail sales expanded in six of the 11 subsectors.

Growth was led by increased spending on sporting goods, hobby, book and music items, where receipts rose 2.1 percent. Spending on clothing and clothing accessories edged up 1.9 percent, while spending on building materials and garden equipment notched up 2.1 percent. On the downside, sales of motor vehicles and auto parts declined for a second consecutive month after six months of growth. New car dealers experienced a 1 percent drop in sales, offsetting gains at other motor vehicle dealers.

Electronics and appliance store receipts fell for the fourth straight month at a rate of -1.5 percent. Sales in this subsector have been declining steadily since the latter part of 2011.

The sales figures pointed to cautious spending among Canadians. According to Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes, “consumers remain cautious as job and wage growth continue to be lacklustre.”

The Canadian economy added 11,900 jobs last month and 59,200 the month before that. However, job growth has been choppy for much of the year. Like other commodity-driven nations, Canada is entering an uncertain environment in the fourth quarter, as the True North grapples with sluggish growth from its southern neighbour (the United States), which also happens to be its biggest trade partner.

Reitzes estimates Canada’s GDP advanced 0.2 percent in Q3 on the basis of retail sales volume, wholesale sales and manufacturing activity.

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