(Adds implications for GDP, context)
OTTAWA, Nov 25 (Reuters) - A surge in the auto sector helped retail sales in Canada to power ahead by 0.8 percent in September, a stronger-than-expected result that may cause analysts to boost their projections for gross domestic product (GDP).
Statistics Canada said on Tuesday that retail sales were unchanged, excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers, whose sales rose 3.4 percent. The auto sector represents one-quarter of overall retail sales.
The median forecast in a Reuters survey of economists was for a 0.5 percent increase in retail sales and a 0.3 percent rise, excluding autos. A decline in August was also revised to 0.2 percent from 0.3 percent.
In volume terms, retail sales rose by an even heftier 1.0 percent. Retail trade is the last major piece of the puzzle before Friday's release of GDP data for September and the third quarter. Statistics Canada has already reported strong manufacturing, wholesale, export and building permits data for September.
Sales reached a record C$42.85 billion ($37.92 billion), seasonally adjusted. Increases were reported in food and beverages, furniture and home furnishings, and electronics and appliance stores. Declines were posted in general merchandise, clothing and building supplies stores and at gasoline stations. ($1=$1.13 Canadian) (Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)