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Oct 20, 2017

Loonie slides as retail sales unexpectedly fall 0.3% in August

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OTTAWA - Canadian retail sales unexpectedly declined in August as consumers spent less at supermarkets and home renovation stores, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.

Sales fell 0.3 per cent, against forecasts for a 0.5 per cent increase. Sales declined in 8 of 11 sectors, accounting for 57 per cent of retail trade. Volumes declined 0.7 per cent, the biggest decrease since March 2016.

The Canadian dollar slid below 80 cents U.S. Friday morning amid the weak showing by consumers in the month.

“Two months is hardly a trend, but after six straight months of growing retail sales volumes, Canadians appear to be taking a summer breather as volumes fell for a second month in August. As to whether this marks the beginning of a trend, that is likely to hinge on the evolution of housing markets,” wrote TD Senior Economist Brian DePratto in a report to clients. 

Sales at food and beverage stores tumbled 2.5 per cent following four consecutive months of gains due to lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores.

Stores that are typically linked to home purchases and renovations also saw sales decline as Canadians spent less on building materials and furniture.

The overall decline in retail sales was tempered by a 3.1 per cent increase in sales at gasoline stations, mostly due to higher prices at the pump.

Vehicle and parts sales rose 0.7 per cent, driven by higher sales at new car dealers. Auto sales have been solid in Canada this year, putting 2017 on track to hit a record.

“Canadian consumers have had a tremendous year so far, so one softer month for retail trade won't spoil the party,” wrote CIBC Economist Nick Exarhos in a note to clients. 

-- With files from BNN

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