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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Having dug themselves out from heavy March snow, Canadians returned to stores in April and pushed retail sales up by 0.6 percent, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
This will give a good start to the second quarter's gross domestic product, which economists and politicians are nervously eyeing in light of the first quarter's slight decline.
It was the fifth increase in retail sales in seven months. But after February's 0.8 percent fall and March's flat performance, April's seasonally adjusted sales were still below the January level.
Car sales fell by 1.2 percent in April, and excluding those, overall sales rose by 1.1 percent. Sales were strong in Quebec and Ontario, where exceptional snowfalls, particularly on weekends, had kept some buyers home in March.
Purchases fell in the West in April, partly because of lower new vehicle sales.
Looking ahead to May, Statscan noted employment was flat. However, the composite leading indicator rose by 0.2 percent.
* Statistics Canada report
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Janet Guttsman