Following a 0.8% decline in March, retail sales rose 0.9% to $44.3 billion in April. Sales were up in 7 of 11 subsectors, representing 64% of total retail sales.
Higher sales at gasoline stations were the main contributor to the gain. Excluding sales at gasoline stations, retail sales advanced 0.4%.
After removing the effects of price changes, particularly higher gasoline prices, retail sales in volume terms were relatively flat in April.
Higher sales at gasoline stations
Sales at gasoline stations rose for the first time since June 2015, up 6.0% in April. This increase largely reflected higher prices at the pump. According to the Consumer Price Index, the price of gasoline was up 8.9% on an unadjusted basis in April, its largest monthly gain since February 2015.
Following a 4.0% decrease in March, sales at furniture and home furnishings stores advanced 6.1%, as both furniture stores (+6.3%) and home furnishings stores (+5.8%) posted higher sales.
Sales at general merchandise stores (+1.3%) were up for the fourth consecutive month.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers reported a 1.6% increase, the third gain in four months.
Sales at miscellaneous store retailers (+3.7%) and health and personal care stores (+0.4%) both advanced for the fourth consecutive month.
Receipts at food and beverage stores edged up 0.1% in April. Results were mixed among store types.
After three consecutive monthly gains, clothing and clothing accessories stores reported a 2.7% decline in April. Lower sales at clothing stores (-3.1%) and shoe stores (-3.9%) more than offset higher sales at jewellery, luggage and leather goods stores (+1.9%).
Sales were down at motor vehicle and parts dealers (-0.3%) for the second consecutive month. Lower sales at new car dealers (-0.5%) accounted for most of the decline. Sales advanced at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores (+1.5%) and used car dealers (+1.3%).
Lower sales were posted at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores (-0.9%) and electronics and appliance stores (-0.3%).
Sales up in nine provinces, as gasoline stations rebound in April
Retail sales increased in every province, except Manitoba, in April.
British Columbia (+2.4%) reported the largest increase in dollar terms, posting stronger sales across most store types.
Sales in Alberta (+2.0%) rose for the first time in five months, largely due to gains at gasoline stations and, to a lesser extent, general merchandise stores and building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers.
Increases in Ontario (+0.4%) were principally attributable to higher sales at gasoline stations.
In New Brunswick (+3.1%), widespread gains were reported across most store types.
Retail sales rose for the first time in three months in Saskatchewan (+1.0%), as higher sales were reported at general merchandise stores.
Sales in Quebec edged up 0.1%. Higher sales at gasoline stations were partially offset by lower sales at new car dealers in April.
Following decreases in March, sales in Newfoundland and Labrador (+0.9%) and Nova Scotia (+0.4%) advanced in April, on the strength of higher sales at gasoline stations.
Sales in Prince Edward Island (+1.0%) posted their sixth consecutive gain.
Manitoba (-0.9%) was the only province to record a decrease in April. The decline was due to lower sales at new car dealers.