Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 1.1% to $51.3 billion in March boosted by higher sales at gas stations and sellers of building materials, garden equipment and supplies.
Economists had expected an increase of 1.0% for the month, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
Sales were higher in seven of 11 subsectors tracked by Statistics Canada.
Sales at gasoline stations gained 6.0% in March due in large part to higher prices at the pump, while sales at gasoline stations in volume terms were relatively unchanged from February.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers increased sales 4.3% in March.
Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers decreased 0.7% in March as sales at new car dealers fell. Excluding the auto sector, overall retail sales were up 1.7% for the month.