Auto sales boost Canadian retail in March

Fri May 21, 2010 8:46am EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian consumers spent heavily on motor vehicles and parts in March, causing retail sales to jump 2.1 percent, the most in five years, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

The median forecast in a Reuters poll was for a 0.1 percent gain in April retail sales.

Excluding the auto sector, sales climbed 1.7 percent on increases in eight of 11 sectors. Statscan also said overall sales volumes increased 2.2 percent.

Motor vehicle and parts dealers contributed the biggest boost, led by the "other" category of vehicles such as motor homes, motorcycles and recreational boats.

Sales at the gas pump rose for the 11th straight month, helped by higher prices, and unseasonably warm weather spurred sales at gardening and building supplies outlets. Meanwhile clothing and accessories stores saw their largest sales increase in nearly four years.

(Reporting by Louise Egan, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

 
<p>A customer looks at cars at a General Motors dealership in Quebec City in this file photo. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger</p>