Canadian retail sales up 1.1% in March, ahead of economists’ expectations

Retails sales grew a solid 1.1 per cent in March, the latest sign that the economy may be rebounding from its February slump. David Zalubowski/AP

Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 1.1 per cent to $51.3 billion in March boosted by higher sales at gas stations and sellers of building materials, garden equipment and supplies. Economists had expected an increase of 1.0 per cent for the month, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.

Sales were higher in seven of 11 subsectors tracked by Statistics Canada. Sales at gasoline stations gained 6.0 per cent in March due in large part to higher prices at the pump, whilevolumes remained relatively unchanged compared to February.

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Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers increased sales 4.3 per cent in March. Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers decreased 0.7 per cent in March as sales at new car dealers fell. Excluding the auto sector, overall retail sales were up 1.7 per cent for the month.

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“The solid retail sales headline continues the string of decent Canadian data, bouncing back from a weak February,” BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes said in a note to clients shortly after the release of the data.