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OTTAWA, March 22 (Reuters) - The value of Canadian retail sales unexpectedly dropped for the third consecutive month in January, pulled down in large part by weak auto sales, Statistics Canada data indicated on Friday.
Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast sales would increase by 0.4 percent. The last time retail sales posted three declines in a row was between April and June 2012.
Sales fell in four of 11 subsectors, representing 52 percent of retail trade. Motor vehicle and parts dealers saw a 1.5 percent dip in trade, thanks to weakness in new car sales, after gains in four of the previous five months.
Sales at general merchandise stores fell by 2.4 percent while receipts at gas stations slipped for the third month in a row, slipping by 0.4 percent on lower prices.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers posted a 1.4 percent increase in sales.
Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by Chizu Nomiyama