UPDATE 1-Canada retail sales rise in March led by cars and food

Fri May 22, 2015 8:36am EDT
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OTTAWA May 22 (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales rose 0.7 percent in March, climbing for the second month in a row as consumers spent more on cars, food and alcohol, data from Statistics Canada showed on Friday.

The figures topped economists' expectations for a modest gain of 0.3 percent. February's figures were revised down slightly to 1.5 percent from the initially reported 1.7 percent.

A 1.5 percent increase at motor vehicle and parts dealers helped lead the gain on higher sales of both new and used cars.

Increased spending was seen at all stores within the food and beverage category, including stronger sales at grocery stores, and beer, wine and liquor stores.

Sales at gasoline stations declined 0.5 percent. It was the eighth such decrease in nine months.

Overall, sales rose in seven of the 11 subsectors, accounting for 71 percent of retail trade. In volume terms, retail sales increased 0.1 percent. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Randall Palmer and W Simon)