Retail sales in Canada fall flat in March as car sales decline

Retail sales in Canada were virtually unchanged in March from February due to a drop in new car sales

sales offset healthy consumer spending, Statistics Canada said.

Total retail sales in Canada hit $60.1 billion in March, flat on month
before, the statistics agency said. The latest result is worse than an initial estimate that
suggested retail sales in March were up 1.4% from February.

The preliminary estimate for April indicates that Canadian retail sales rose 0.8% for the month,
but the federal agency warned that the figure will be revised in the coming weeks.

In March, retail sales showed healthy growth excluding motor vehicle sales. Statistics Canada
said sales were up in 10 of the 11 subsectors it tracks, accounting for 75% of retail.

However, sales of motor vehicles and auto parts fell 6.4% in March as new car dealers posted a decline of
5.9%. However, gas station sales rose 7.4% in March due to higher fuel prices.

Core retail sales excluding gas stations and motor vehicle dealers rose 1.5% in
March. The increase was driven by higher sales of building materials and garden equipment and
supplies, which rose 3.7%.

Clothing sales also continued to post strong gains in March with a 2.2% increase following the
exceptionally strong increase of 15.5% observed in February of this year.