Canada Retail Sales Rise 0.8% in April

By David George-Cosh Features Dow Jones Newswires

Canadian retail sales climbed above expectations in April due to steady buying for building material, hardware and tools, as well as increased activity at gas stations.

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The value of retail sales rose 0.8% on a seasonally-adjusted basis to 48.6 billion Canadian dollars ($36.6 billion), Statistics Canada said Thursday. Market expectations were for a 0.3% gain, according to economists at Royal Bank of Canada.

In volume terms -- or when the effects of price changes are removed -- total retail sales were up 0.3% in April.

On a year-over-year basis, nominal retail sales rose 7%. Excluding vehicles and auto parts, retail sales increased 1.5% to C$35.9 billion in April. March retail sales figures were reduced to a 0.5% monthly gain, from 0.7%.

The retail report is one of the last major pieces of economic data to emerge before Canada gets a look at how its gross domestic product performed in April.

The result also comes amid heightened expectations for a sooner than previously anticipated rate increase from the Bank of Canada, after its two top officials signaled last week that they were setting the groundwork to increase the policy rate -- which sits at a near record low of 0.50%.

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Central-bank officials said last week the two rate cuts the bank delivered in 2015 at the height of a commodity-price shock "have done their work" in helping the economy adjust to lower oil prices, and growth is now broadening on a regional basis.

According to the April retail report, nine of the 11 sectors tracked posted sales gains from the previous month.

The monthly gains were led by a 3.5% increase in sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, the eight straight monthly gain for the sector as consumers purchase more home appliances, hardware and tools.

Sales at general merchandise stores rose 2.1%, while gas station receipts were up 1.7% in the month, the seventh advance in nine months. Meanwhile, sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers fell 1.0% due to lower sales at car dealers, Statistics Canada said.

The statistics agency also noted retail e-commerce sales were C$1.2 billion in April, up 41.6% from the same month last year. E-commerce accounted for 2.5% of total retail trade, Statistics Canada said.

Write to David George-Cosh at david.george-cosh@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 22, 2017 09:30 ET (13:30 GMT)