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Canadian retail sales increase sharply in April

H.S. Borji
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Canadian retail sales increased at a faster rate than forecast in April, a sign consumer spending continued to drive economic growth at the start of the second quarter.

Retail sales increased 1.1 percent to CAD $41.6 billion in April, following a 0.1 percent gain the previous month that was initially reported as a decline, Statistics Canada reported today in Ottawa. A broad consensus of market analysts forecast retail sales to rise 0.6 percent.

April marked the fourth consecutive month retail revenues increased.

In volume terms, retail sales were up 0.8 percent.

Year-on-year, retail sales climbed 5.9 percent.

Excluding automobiles, retail revenues increased 0.7 percent, more than double the consensus estimate of 0.3 percent.

Sales increased in ten of the 11 retail sub-sectors, which account for 98 percent of all retail trade. Motor vehicle and parts dealers led the advance, increasing 2.4 percent in April. This was the largest gain among all sub-sectors.

Sales at food and beverage stores increased for the fifth consecutive month at a rate of 0.6 percent, led by higher alcohol sales.

Receipts at clothing and clothing accessories stores rebounded sharply in April, advancing 1.5 percent.

Electronics and appliance stores posted their fourth consecutive month of gains. Receipts at these stores increased 1.2 percent, official data showed.

Six of the ten provinces reported higher retail trade in April, led by Ontario and British Columbia, which accounted for most of the gains. Retail sales in Alberta declined for the first time this year.

The latest figures suggest consumer spending remained elevated at the start of the second quarter.. Along with the home sales, consumer spending has been a major catalyst of economic growth in Canada over the last five years.

However, Canada’s recovery since last year has lacked consistency, as business investment and exports have waned. Job creation has remained relatively subdued since last August, with all the growth during that period in part-time employment.

Weak retail sales figures in March, combined with a drop in wholesale trade and exports, set the stage for a soft GDP reading in the first quarter. The Canadian economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.1 percent between January and April, well below estimates.

The severe winter weather was partly to blame for the disappointing first quarter figures.

In a separate report, Canadian consumer prices surged 2.3 percent annually in May, following a 2 percent gain the prior month.

Core consumer prices advanced 1.7 percent annually, following a 1.4 percent hike in April.

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