Retail sales rose 0.5% to $37.8 billion in August, largely offsetting the decline in July.
Gains were reported in 6 of 11 subsectors, representing 70% of retail sales. The increase was led by higher sales at gasoline stations and motor vehicle and parts dealers.
In volume terms, sales rose 0.3%.
Retail sales increase in August
Gasoline stations (+1.9%) registered the largest sales increase in August. This gain more than offset sales declines in June and July.
The 1.0% increase at motor vehicle and parts dealers was mainly accounted for by higher sales at new car dealers (+0.7%) and other motor vehicle dealers (+5.0%). Sales rose for a fifth consecutive month in the "other motor vehicle dealers" industry, which includes retailers of recreational vehicles, motorcycles and boats. Used car dealers reported a 1.8% rise in sales. Automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (-0.4%) registered the only decline in this subsector.
Gains were reported by food and beverage stores (+0.3%) for a third consecutive month. Higher sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores (+0.3%) accounted for most of the increase.
Furniture and home furnishing stores registered a 1.6% gain in August, largely offsetting the decline in July. Sales in this subsector have been flat since early 2010, as increases at home furnishing stores have been offset by declines at furniture stores.
After increasing four months in a row, sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores were down 0.7% in August. Lower sales were reported by clothing stores (-0.6%) and shoe stores (-3.4%).
Sales at electronics and appliance stores fell 1.1% in August, a third consecutive monthly decline. Prior to this three-month slide, sales in this subsector had been relatively flat since the third quarter of 2010.
Sales up in most provinces
Retail sales rose in eight provinces in August. The largest sales gain in dollar terms occurred in Ontario, where sales rose 0.9%. This marked the fourth increase in five months.
Retailers in all three Prairie provinces reported increased sales in August. Alberta retailers registered the largest gain (+1.4%), more than offsetting declines reported in this province in June and July.
Sales in Quebec were essentially unchanged between July and August.
Nova Scotia (-2.3%) and Prince Edward Island (-1.1%) were the only provinces to report sales declines. The decrease in Nova Scotia followed five consecutive monthly gains.