Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 08:31

MNI DATA IMPACT:Canada Feb Retail Sales +0.8%,Top Expectations

By Yali N'Diaye

OTTAWA (MNI) - The following are the key points from the data on Canadian retail sales released Thursday by Statistics Canada:

- Following three consecutive monthly declines, retail sales rebounded 0.8% in February, beating the market consensus of +0.4%. The increase was the largest since May 2018 and lifted the 12-month growth rate to 1.8% from 0.9%. The gain more than erased the 0.4% drop recorded in January, which was revised from -0.3%.

- Details were more mixed than the headline suggests. The gain was mostly a price story as real sales, more relevant to GDP, edged up just 0.2%, failing to offset January's 0.3% decrease.

- In addition, gains were concentrated in 5 of 11 subsectors, even though they represented 73% of retail trade. A 3.1% increase in new car sales was the key driver that boosted motor vehicles and parts sales. The latter rose 1.4% overall. Excluding autos and parts, sales were up 0.6% on the month.

- Higher sales also resulted from recovering oil prices, which boosted gasoline station receipts. The latter increased 1.9% in February, after falling 2.2% in January. However, it was mostly price related, as volumes increased just 0.7%. Sales excluding gasoline were up 0.7%. Core sales excluding autos and gas were still up 0.4% on the month, posting their first increase since September 2018.

- However, in real terms, core sales, excluding autos and gas, contracted 0.2%, recording their third consecutive decrease, providing no indication that consumer spending slowing momentum is turning around.

--MNI Ottawa Bureau; email:


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