Retail sales

Canadian retail sales rose 0.7% to $66.8 billion in April, helped by higher sales at gasoline stations as well as food and beverage retailers.

The agency said Friday sales were up in seven of the nine subsectors it tracks as sales at gasoline stations and fuel vendors gained 4.5%.

However, Statistics Canada added that its advance estimate for retail sales in May pointed to a decline of 0.6%, though it cautioned the figure would be revised.

“The overall trend in spending points to softness, with the three-month average growth rate barely moving into positive territory in April, then reverting back in May,” TD Bank economist Maria Solovieva wrote in report.

“Additionally, recent industry data highlights sluggish demand in auto sales will spill over to the rest of the quarter, weighing on durable goods spending.”

The motor vehicle and parts dealers group posted the largest drop in April as it fell 2.2% with sales at new car dealers down 2.9%.

Core retail sales — which exclude gasoline stations and fuel vendors and motor vehicle and parts dealers — rose 1.4% in April.

Sales at food and beverage retailers gained 1.9%, while clothing and clothing accessories retailers gained 2.1%. The sporting goods and miscellaneous subsector gained 3.4%.

In volume terms, retail sales in April gained 0.5%.

The retail sales data follows a decision by the Bank of Canada earlier this month to cut its key interest target by a quarter of a percentage point to 4.75%.

It was the first time the central bank lowered its policy rate since March 2020 in the early days of the pandemic.

The central bank considered waiting until July to begin lowering interest rates, but ultimately decided to cut.