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Busy gas stations, car dealers pushed retail sales up in June: Statistics Canada

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Statistics Canada says retail sales increased 1.1 per cent to $63.1 billion in June, boosted by higher sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers.

However, the agency said its preliminary estimate for July suggests retail sales for that month fell 2.0 per cent, though it cautioned the figure would be revised.

Bank of Montreal economist Shelly Kaushik said retail spending had a surprisingly strong June, though much of the headline strength was due to higher prices as volumes were sluggish.

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Retail sales in volume terms gained 0.2 per cent in June.

“Still, it looks like retail sales will add to growth in the second quarter. However, the flash estimate for July points to a weaker start to Q3,” Kaushik wrote in a report.

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For June, higher prices helped lift sales at gasoline stations 3.9 per cent for the month even as sales at gasoline stations in volume terms fell 1.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers gained 1.8 per cent in June, boosted by a 2.9 per cent gain at new car dealers. Sales at used car dealers gained 1.7 per cent.

Core retail sales — which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers — rose 0.2 per cent.

General merchandise stores gained 1.1 per cent for June, while clothing and clothing accessories stores rose 1.8 per cent, helped by a 2.1 per cent gain at clothing stores and a 2.4 per cent increase at jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores.

Sales at food and beverage stores fell 1.1 per cent in June as sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores dropped 0.8 per cent and beer, wine and liquor stores lost 2.9 per cent.

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