December 21, 2009 / 1:50 PM / in 8 years

Canada retail sales up, nearly recoup year's loss

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Higher auto sales helped push Canadian retail trade up by 0.8 percent in October to a level nearly as high as a year ago before the sharp declines seen in late 2008, Statistics Canada said on Monday.

<p>People go shopping in a mall in downtown Toronto in this December 23, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>

It was the eighth gain in the 10 months so far this year and brought retail sales to 1.4 percent below October 2008 levels. In September, year-on-year sales were down by 3.1 percent.

Sales of motor vehicles and parts grew by 3.3 percent, with new car dealer sales up for the sixth straight month to a level higher than in 2008. Excluding auto sales, overall retail trade was up by 0.2 percent.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected increases of 0.8 percent in overall sales and 0.2 percent excluding auto sales. Sales were up in five of eight sectors and essentially unchanged in a sixth.

Sales volume, used to calculate real gross domestic product, rose by 0.6 percent from September. For the first time in a year, volume was now higher, by 0.2 percent, than 12 months earlier.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Padraic Cassidy

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