Retail sales show consumers scaling back

Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:53am EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian consumers are keeping a tighter grip on their cash, retail sales data for April shows, as households remain deeply in debt and are no longer driving economic growth.

Statistics Canada said on Tuesday that retail sales rose 0.3 percent in April, up from the 0.1 percent decline in March but below the 0.5 percent market forecast. Sales rose 0.2 percent in volume terms in the month and were flat excluding autos.

"That softening trend is seen no matter which way you slice it," said Leslie Preston, economic analyst at TD Economics.

Preston said year-on-year measures of sales "have all decelerated significantly since earlier in the recovery and are off their pre-recession pace."

On a more upbeat note, the leading indicator rose 1 percent in May, twice the rate expected, due to strength in the manufacturing sector.

That may have helped lift the Canadian dollar against its U.S. counterpart on Tuesday morning, although the foreign exchange market is largely fixated on the Greek debt crisis. The currency rose as high as C$0.9746 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0261, just after the data was released, up from Monday's North American finish of C$0.9802 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0202. It later pared gains.


Retail sales have disappointed market expectations every month since December 2010.   Continued...

<p>A worker paints price tags in the used car lot at a Chrysler car dealership in Toronto, April 30, 2009. REUTERS/Peter Jones</p>