Retail sales fell in September for the first time in three months, though the decline was less than economists had anticipated.

Canadian retailers sold 0.1 per cent fewer goods in the month as consumers spent less on motor vehicles and gasoline, Statistics Canada said Friday in Ottawa. That beat the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey for a 0.3  decline. Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales climbed 0.2 per cent.

In volume terms, which strip out the effects of price changes, September sales dipped 0.1 per cent. Third quarter retail sales climbed 0.5 per cent in volume terms, meaning they will contribute positively to quarterly output.

Key Insights

  • Lower new car sales were the largest contributor to the monthly decline, while used car dealer sales were up 3.6% on the month
  • The report is one of the final prints for the third quarter before quarterly GDP is released next week. Economists have forecast a deceleration in output to 1.3 per cent from 3.7 per cent in the prior quarter
  • September’s sales beat economist expectations for both the headline number and sales excluding autos, reinforcing the Bank of Canada’s view that the consumer remains strong despite global trade tensions

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  • Cannabis sales fell 2.4 per cent in September, the first monthly decline since February
  • Retail e-commerce sales reached $1.9 billion in September, accounting for 3.6 per cent of total retail trade.
  • August’s print was revised up to 0.1 per cent from -0.1 per cent

--With assistance from Erik Hertzberg.