Retail sales rose 0.5% to $38.9 billion in January, a fifth increase in six months. Excluding sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers, retail sales declined 0.5%.
In volume terms, sales grew 0.3%, a sixth consecutive month of growth.
Retail sales increase in January
Gains were reported in 5 of 11 subsectors, representing 52% of total retail sales.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers rose 3.7%. New car dealers (+4.6%) led the increase, posting their highest monthly growth rate in three years. Higher sales of lower-cost passenger cars were the main contributor to this increase. Gains were also reported at used car dealers (+2.8%) and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+1.8%).
General merchandise store sales rose 1.7% in January, more than offsetting a decline in December. After four consecutive monthly declines, sales at department stores increased 2.1%. Sales at other general merchandise stores (+1.4%) rose for a third straight month.
Clothing and clothing accessories stores increased 0.6%, a third increase in four months. Higher sales at shoe stores led the gain, rising 4.2%.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers (-5.2%) accounted for the largest sales decline in dollar terms in January, offsetting a 4.0% increase in December.
Sales at food and beverage stores decreased 0.9% in January, mainly reflecting lower sales at supermarkets and other grocery stores.
Electronics and appliance stores registered a sales decline of 3.4%, down for a third month in a row.
Sales at gasoline stations (-0.1%) were down for the second consecutive month.
Ontario leads sales gains
Retail sales rose in six provinces in January.
The largest contributor to the gain was Ontario (+1.5%), where sales rose for a third consecutive month. Higher sales of new motor vehicles were the main reason for this gain.
Sales in Alberta (+0.6%) and British Columbia (+0.3%) increased after declining in December.
Following five consecutive monthly gains, retail sales in Quebec declined 0.7% in January.
Sales in Nova Scotia decreased 1.5% in January after increasing in December.