Canadian February retail sales rise 0.4 percent on autos

A woman looks at her phone while walking past a sales sign on display outside a retail store in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian retail sales grew by 0.4 percent in February as higher sales at auto dealerships and general merchandise stores outweighed widespread weakness in other sectors, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a 0.3 percent gain. The month-on-month increase was the largest since the 3.3 percent jump seen in October 2017.

Overall, sales grew in just four of the 11 subsectors, representing 47 percent of retail trade. In volume terms, sales edged up 0.3 percent.

Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers - which represented more than a quarter of all retail trade in February - posted a 1.4 percent gain from January. Excluding autos, retail sales were unchanged.

General merchandise stores posted a 2.0 percent gain, the fourth increase in five months. Sales at gasoline stations fell by 0.9 percent, the first decline since June 2017.

Graphic: Canada economic snapshot -

(This version of the story makes clear in first paragraph that data is for February, not March.)

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Nick Zieminski