Retail sales in Canada up 0.8% in April on gasoline, home supply stores

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Canadian retail sales rose more than expected in April on higher gasoline prices and as consumers spent on home appliances and garden supplies, data from Statistics Canada showed on Thursday.

The value of retail sales rose 0.8 per cent, exceeding forecasts for 0.2 per cent. March was revised down slightly to a 0.5 per cent increase from an initially reported gain of 0.7 per cent.

Stripping out the effects of price changes, April’s sales volumes were less robust, rising just 0.3 per cent.

The building material, garden equipment and supplies sector rose 3.5 per cent, its biggest increase in nearly two years. Increased sales of home appliances and hardware have helped the sector rise for eight months in a row.

Canada’s housing market has been robust, with sales and starts rising in the first months of the year, though activity has begun to cool in the major city of Toronto since provincial measures put in place in late April.

Sales rose 2.1 per cent at general merchandise stores, which include big-box and department stores. Sales at gasoline stations rose 1.7 per cent, the seventh increase in nine months as Canadians paid higher prices at the pump.

Vehicle and parts dealer sales fell 1.0 per cent following a solid increase in March as consumers bought fewer new cars. Excluding the auto sector, retail