Retail sales in Canada rose in April for a third month on higher receipts at new car dealerships and gasoline stations, though the increase wasn’t as large as expected.

Sales advanced 0.1 per cent in April, Statistics Canada reported Friday in Ottawa. That was less than the 0.2 per cent median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Excluding autos and parts, sales climbed 0.1 per cent, versus a 0.4 per cent median forecast.

In volume terms sales dropped 0.2 per cent. Friday’s data release was interrupted by a fire alarm at Statistics Canada.

Key Insights

  • Friday’s report will be closely watched for signs that indebted consumers are paring back on spending. The Bank of Canada flagged household debt as one of the key vulnerabilities at its latest Financial System Review
  • The largest upside contributor to the increase were sales at new car dealers, up 1.2 per cent, and sales at gasoline stations, which rose 1.2 per cent
  • On the downside, building materials receipts dropped 2.6 per cent